The announcement of the leadership programme for chief executives (news, 17 June) is a commendable initiative, but is in danger of failure due to the speed of the contract letting arrangements.

During the eight weeks following an information meeting on 22 June, management development providers are asked to design and develop a programme in time for formal tenders to be presented by 26 August .

In the meantime, 'the first cohort of chief executives will be recruited to the programme in September'.

Assuming they wish to have a firm idea of the programme content before committing themselves, I can foresee purchasing officers in a mad scramble over the August bank holiday weekend as bids are evaluated, awarded and the programme content finalised in time for a September publication.

It seems the NHS Executive has gone for the quick-fix, must-spend-the-budget-in-this-financial-year option, rather than investing sufficient time for the development of a meaningful top-level programme.

Ian Chalmers Freelance personnel manager and former head of HR, Wirral Community Healthcare trust