Your Comment (1 October) accurately reflected the feeling of chief executives at their recent forum that they wished to be more involved in NHS policy and wished to work on increasing their powers of influence.

But the News Focus gives the impression they spent two days bemoaning their lot.

While there is an issue of mood among top managers that needs to be addressed, most of the two days was spent in workshops which looked at a wide range of practical issues to do with implementing The New NHS.

It was a valuable opportunity to learn from peers from different parts of the country about both challenges and examples of good practice.

There were strong recommendations for creating more opportunities to learn from each other, to do some of this learning alongside local government chief executives - with whom partnership is so important - and to work on constructive ways of influencing both local communities and government.

The idea of some sort of public statement of chief executives' concern was rejected, with the realisation that they had to demonstrate their credibility and improve their influencing skills rather than simply making statements of discontent.

Ignoring the positive aspects of the meeting means the message from the conference was not the constructive one intended.

The impression that chief executives were universally critical of the NHS Confederation is nonsense. While there are some critics, chief executives recognise the critical importance of the confederation in representing the views of NHS boards.

Alan Bedford


Chief executives' forum steering group