THE Conservatives have pledged to scrap Labour Government targets. “Hurrah”, I hear.

At the Conservative conference in Manchester, shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley said: “Let us be absolutely clear. We will abolish Labour’s political targets.”

In January last year, David Cameron was asked on BBC Radio 4 whether the Tories would get rid of the target that by the end of this year no one will be waiting longer than 18 weeks from GP referral to hospital treatment. He replied: “We think these process targets are wrong.”

There is currently a Government target to ensure people suspected of suffering from cancer will see a specialist within two weeks. The Government has said it will reduce this to one week.

Whatever your political persuasion, if you were suspected of suffering from cancer would you not want to be guaranteed to see a specialist within two weeks?

I am chair of York’s health overview and scrutiny committee and when I went on a tour of York Hospital there was recognition that such targets are patient guarantees and have reduced waiting times.

The Commonwealth Fund survey of frontline doctors in 11 countries ranked the UK as first in short waiting times for specialist care and quality of clinical care.

We need to start realising that these targets are not horrible examples of a nanny-state, but have reduced NHS waiting times dramatically and are public guarantees over levels of service.

By pledging to scrap such targets, the Conservatives are not guaranteeing current levels of NHS service.

In November, Mr Lansley spoke of the Conservatives’ “cast-iron commitment to preserve the principles of the NHS”. Is this like the cast-iron guarantee over the Lisbon Treaty?

Coun James Alexander, Prospective Labour MP for York Outer.

Holgate Road, Holgate, York.