Published: 13/06/2002, Volume II2, No.5809 Page 20

You report that the Socialist Health Association wrote a letter to Lord Hattersley, copied to Labour MP Julia Drown, that was damning in its criticism of Professor Allyson Pollock, suggesting that her work lacked credibility ('PFI critic hits back at select committee's 'political' attack', news, 30 May).

I am a member of the central council, the SHA's executive committee and decisionmaking body.

I am perplexed by the report because the council has not agreed to such a view nor sanctioned the sending of the letter. In fact, the central council has not evaluated Professor Pollock's research since I became a member of the committee in 2000.

In July last year, however, the council debated and then overwhelmingly supported a resolution I introduced on privatisation.

The resolution was jointly written by Professor Pollock and Alex Scott-Samuel and subsequently formed the basis for an SHA submission to the Commons health select committee's recent inquiry into the NHS and the private sector (appendix 10).

Last September, Professor Pollock attended a council meeting to contribute to a discussion on privatisation policy.

Unfortunately, I missed this meeting but the minutes do not mention her views or question her credibility. In any case, 'damning criticism' would be poor reward for any invited speaker, especially on their first visit.

I am seeking clarification from Socialist Health Association officers about the HSJ report and am sure they will confirm that whoever wrote to Lord Hattersley did so in a personal capacity, without the agreement of the members of the central council.

Ursula Pearce Birmingham