A HAPPY 2008 to all Hillingdon Times readers and their families, and I hope that it is not just happy but healthy too.

The new year usually starts for many with a feeling of over-indulgence, and many a new year's resolution will be made to take more exercise and to cut down on alcohol and other things we know we should do to look after ourselves.

I wonder whether Gordon Brown has made any resolutions. Smile a bit more? No, I would suggest he spin a little less, particularly on the National Health Service.

When I look back at 2007, I see an NHS which suffered under the weight of bureaucracy, unnecessary targets and, yes, the ever-present spin.

Hospitals have been told that they must "deep clean" to combat superbugs such as MRSA, but when the detail is examined no funds were allocated for the project and no plans submitted for how the "deep clean" would take place. Personally, I was amazed that the concept of a "deep clean" should be seen as something new and innovative.

The strain on the NHS has being felt locally as well, with Hillingdon losing 86 hospital beds since 1997 and several GP practice nurses since 2001.

In Uxbridge, the number of people registered with an NHS dentist has fallen by 9,500 in the past ten years. Cuts are also being proposed for maternity services and mental health beds in London.

Although I am pleased to say that Hillingdon PCT is recovering financially, it seems that the Government's insistence on re-launches and announcements is clouding the real picture.

Sadly the Government's target-driven culture is damaging our health service. If real progress is to be made, the Government should stop tinkering and let our health professionals get on with the job they do best.