Seamus Ward's feature, 'Take the money and run?' (pages 16-18, 4 January) makes a good job of summarising one of the murkier aspects of NHS management.

However, I do feel, having helped negotiate scores of NHS termination settlements over a 10-year period, that the incidence of illegal and/or lavish discretionary payments is much lower than implied in your article.

The guidelines are now so strict, the questions of probity and public accountability now so dominant, the pressure from the centre to minimise costs now so strong, that it is quite difficult to ensure even minimum statut ory entitlements are met.

My general impression is that far from being recipients of excessive bounty, most NHS managers whose jobs are at risk (and there are plenty of them) have to fight very hard and determinedly to secure even their basic contractual entitlements.

Roger Taylor Managing director Altorfer Financial Management Herts