We at Shared Medical Systems Ltd read with interest the article 'Chips off the old block' (News Focus, page 12, 4 December).

Before 1 December, SMS Datacare and SMS UK were sister companies within the SMS Northern European Operations providing complementary services and solutions to the healthcare market.

From 1 December, SMS Ltd now conducts the business previously undertaken by SMS Datacare Ltd and SMS UK Ltd.

The support contracts for North Western PAS clients were in place before the regional computer centre was purchased by SMS in 1995.

The support contracts therefore are part of the North Western PAS re-procurement currently in process, not affecting the core business of the Manchester operation in any way, and certainly not putting it under threat.

The Information Services Centre of SMS Ltd (previously SMS Datacare) continues to grow the core business and is diversifying to offer more choice of services to clients, positioning it for future expansion.

Lou Chambers,

Manager,

Marketing communications,

Northern European Operations,

SMS.