Your article on the London Ambulance Service's multi-lingual phrasebook and cultural awareness handbook (News Focus, 27 August) unfairly presents them as attempts by a 'beleaguered' service to improve its image.

This picture bears no relation to today's service.

Genuine innovations such as these, launched as part of a wider range of equal opportunity initiatives, should be welcomed and not belittled. It is important for any organisation to avoid the trap of becoming overly defensive in the face of criticisms of the effectiveness of its equal opportunity measures.

The article implies racism was a factor in the case of Samuel Mugalu. But an internal investigation and an independent panel (of which I was a member) could find no evidence of racism.

Despite this, the LAS quite rightly insisted on using its response to this tragedy as an opportunity to develop further its equal opportunity programme.

The Nasima Begum incident was many years ago, and cannot be used as an example of present performance.

We have dealt with more than 4 million calls since then, and even in that case racism was not the problem but lack of resources.

We are happy to be judged on our record. All we ask is that it is the record of current performance - not the mistakes of years gone by.

Colin Douglas


London Ambulance Service trust