Letters

Your editorial states that the NHS Confederation welcomed hit squads and trusts being 'red lighted' (page 17, 10 August). HSJ naturally found this astonishing, but it doesn't reflect our view. Your editorial correctly identified the gap between the tough language and the reality. In fact, we got neither red lights nor hit squads.

We would not welcome hit squads, and it is clear that Sue Jennings does not consider that she is leading a hit squad and nor would her team be able to function if they were.

The Confederation didn't welcome 'red lighting' trusts because the system doesn't actually exist yet, the standards have not been defined and it is the Commission for Health Improvement and regional offices, not the national patient access team that decide performance levels annually, rather than in response to problems in one set of indicators.

We did welcome the idea of support from the access team, as indeed did the trusts involved. Naming and shaming is unpleasant, but it is clearly an approach that the government is heavily committed to and plainly believes works even if it is counterproductive for trusts. The confederation does understand the problems caused by naming and shaming and we will continue to express these direct to government.

Nigel Edwards Policy director NHS Confederation