Regarding the recent coverage of NHS cuts made by the primary care trust (PCT). Having worked within the NHS for more than 20 years, I would like to comment on the Choose and Book system used at present for referring patients to hospital by their GPs.

I feel that the money which is being spent on this is a total waste of the PCT's fund. Already in debt by millions of pounds, the money being spent on Choose And Book must be contributing to this debt, as the high cost of administration, both at the PCT and within the doctors surgeries must be astronomical, and I feel a total waste of valuable time and money.

Most people who live in the York area want to be referred to their local hospital (York Hospital NHS Trust). Therefore the time spent on going through the lengthy process of Choose And Book is using up valuable consultation time with a GP.

It is putting more work and pressure on them and their administration staff, and it seems to be fairly obvious that most GPs in York are very unhappy with the system, and angry that valuable funds are being spent on something which seems totally unnecessary and could be used towards the patient services, which are being drastically cut. The PCT should get their priorities right and start to think of the people who are in desperate need of treatment, whether it be urgent or "non life-threatening".

B Gibson, Yarburgh Grove, York.

IN 1948 the then "Old" Labour Government heralded in the health service to beat all other heath services, the National Health Service, and in the standard dictionary the word "national' is defined as common to a whole nation". To my mind this means that the health service was for the benefit of everyone.

There have been changes to those initial well thought-out principles but none, as far as I can see, has gone as far as those imposed by today's "New" Labour.

The implementation of highly-paid managers is one thing, but they need an office and a secretary. It follows that they will require staff who will also require offices which will need maintaining and cleaning and - oh, it goes on and on. How much money that these managers were installed to save is spent on managerial empires?

Targets were set for hospitals to achieve, and most know that once targets are imposed then the object is to attain them - no matter what, be it careful manipulating of the facts, scurrilous cheeseparing of services or downright falsifications, simply to be able to report to central Government that We are on target'.

I agree that we have to redress the financial problems in the NHS, but in a service where we are told that more and more money is now coming from the Government coffers, somewhere along the line it would seem that it is a case of mismanagement of these funds.

A recent series of articles in The Press have indicated the problems, and a couple of recent articles have highlighted the management solutions - cutbacks in operations, in general health care and possible staffing cuts. It looks like an insidious change of title is afoot - from NHS to S(selective) HS.

George W Bateson, Moorland Garth, Strensall, York.

I know it's fashionable to knock the Government over the NHS these days, but I think it's worth reflecting that a report published this week has shown that heart disease deaths are down 35 per cent since the Government came to power.

New and refurbished buildings, better equipment and improved cardiothoracic facilities across the country have played their part in the improving picture.

Improvements in services include:

* 9,700 lives were saved through use of statins in 2005 - up from 2,900 in 2000.

* no patients have waited more than three months for heart surgery since March 2005 - compared to 5,663 waiting over three months in April 2002.

* the number of consultant cardiologists has gone up - from 467 in 1999, to 725 in Sept 2005.

* the number of heart surgeons has risen - from 182 in 1999, to 238 in Sept 2005.

Coronary disease is one of the greatest killers, and yet our National Health Service provides world class treatment, free at the point of use to everyone who needs it. There are literally more people alive today - in terms of survivors of heart disease - thanks to this Government's investment in the NHS.

Of course, there are always going to be difficulties. There is always going to be more to do, and serious problems to solve - I don't deny that. But I for one am immensely proud of our NHS, and very grateful for the hard work of its dedicated staff.

It's easy to knock something and focus on the negatives, but I also think we should pause every once in a while and be thankful for the immense amount of excellent results too.

Coun Paul Blanchard (Labour), Chaucer Lane, York.