IT is very easy to overlook a simple yet crucial element in our story about multiple missed health targets today: these “percentages” are real people. Who are sick.

Even without factoring that in, it is again simply unacceptable that our health providers are failing to hit more than half the pledges for treatment set out in the NHS Constitution.

Our health officials complain of increasing pressures and more patients. But it has been ever so. That excuse goes dangerously down a Basil Fawlty-like route – that it would be much easier to run a hospital if there weren’t all these sick people cluttering the place up.

Simply, the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) was brought in to run our health service in what was supposed to be an improvement on the old Primary Care Trust system. It, and the organisations providing the services, should be meeting expectations or they are failing in their core role.

Yet there are all these missed targets. These come on top of several management overhauls in its short existence, plus the still confusing financial arrangement that allowed it to have “debts” written off.

The OCCG has the power to fine service providers if they fail to hit targets, yet at this early stage it is choosing not to do so. It favours “working in partnership” to fix what is broken and that, at least, has some merit.

But it also needs to wave its disciplinary stick, otherwise there is a danger we will continue to hear excuses rather than tangible improvement.

And if we don’t see any improvement, then the OCCG will become as directly culpable for the missed targets as the service providers.