St Mary's Hospital, London, was delighted to act as host to health secretary Alan Milburn when he announced the outcomes from the Patient Environment Action Team inspections (news, pages 6-7, 8 November).

The work undertaken to move us from 'red' to 'green' status was a truly collaborative effort. It involved our new contractors, ISS Mediclean, and every staff member, with a strong steer from nurses and midwives, under the determined and very focused leadership of Mark Lynn, director of estates and facilities, plus the firm support of the trust board, health authority and regional office.

The issues that led to our initial poor score were historic and due to a lack of funding. It was no mean feat to achieve green-light status in this short space of time.

With regard to 'modern matrons', we are planning, in accordance with the guidelines, to introduce the concept fully by April 2002, having consulted with all nursing staff.

Our approach will be to strengthen the role of the ward sister and provide them with much more authority to manage their clinical areas.

This will also involve building on the already good partnership arrangements we have fostered with our fellow support-service colleagues.

This work is ongoing and as part of it, I, as the 'traditional matron' (I am too old to be classed as 'modern', although young in sprit), will be chairing our environmental standards group.

Participants of the roundthe-world yacht race only reached their destination in one piece by having a crew who worked well as a team.

The St Mary's 'yacht' gained its recent green light as a consequence of all staff members working really well together under some quite difficult circumstances.

Susan Osbourne Director of nursing St Mary's trust London W2