You present the story about the recent evaluation of the costs of implementing hospital information support systems (HISS) as an average loss of£2m per project (News, page 3, 26 March).

In fact for medium and large trusts, an investment of£200,000 a year is not only modest but increasingly inevitable to develop information systems that can positively support and improve both the clinical process and clinical governance.

The nine HISS sites studied by the National Audit Office in 1996 were criticised for failing to deliver their predicted savings, but the new report shows this judgement to have been premature.

Actual savings are now up to£21m compared with£3.3m at the time of the NAO study, and predicted whole-life savings are now up to 90 per cent of the original business-case estimates.

NHS investment in clinical systems is not driven by administrative cost-cutting but out of a belief that better information will eventually deliver better care.

Even so, the HISS sites have been able to make a 60 per cent average contribution to the costs of their systems through efficiency improvements, and in the longer run the contribution they will make to more effective clinical practice will more than justify the balance.

Beauty, as always, is in the eye of the beholder.

Frank G Burns, Head of IM&T, NHS Executive, Leeds.