I agree with you that the National Institute for Clinical Excellence still has a long way to go before there can be real change (Comment, 8 April).

As a representative of the patients' and carers' movement, I would very much like to have attended the launch of NICE.

Unfortunately, I received the invitation two days before the event.

Along with many other groups, the Carers National Association was asked to submit nominations to the partners council of NICE.

The partners council will act as an external reference group to NICE, and includes representatives from many stakeholder groups, including patients and carers.

Unfortunately, our successful nominee - a recently bereaved carer who lives in Devon - was given one day's notice of the inaugural meeting of the partners council.

Not surprisingly, she could not attend.

According to an official I spoke to, only 16 out of a potential group of 40 representatives were able to attend because of the short notice given.

Patients and carers are passionately committed to improving quality in the NHS and are keen to support NICE. But that support should not

be taken for granted.

Francine Bates


Patients Forum

Deputy chief executive

Carers National Association