Published: 07/10/2004, Volume II4, No. 5926 Page 27

It was disappointing to see yet another speech from a Labour health secretary falling into the trap of caricaturing reformminded policies.

Why is every policy suggestion - be it from the Liberal Democrats or the Conservatives - always said to 'destroy the NHS'?

John Reid knows full well that, without reform, the NHS cannot survive the huge demands already placed on it and those likely to burden it in future.

Pledging extra money for cleaning wards in the current climate of concern about healthcare-acquired infections is good politics but does not make much difference to standards in the long term.

How about 'saving the NHS' by giving its staff more autonomy from central control? That would be a speech worth hearing.

Helen Disney Director Stockholm Network