Published: 17/03/2005, Volume II5, No. 5947 Page 20

Michael Whitcroft, Bath

I was interested to read your comment (page 3; news, page 5, 24 February) and your exclusive story on the Department of Health's 'marketing intelligence unit', which describe how marketing is once again an issue in the NHS.

As a past marketing and contracts/business development director of a trust in north-west London in the early 1990s, I join the cynical among us in saying we have seen it all before - but under the Conservatives.

The even more cynical might say that it is a reflection of how far the Labour government has borrowed the clothes of its predecessors in trying to create a responsive NHS.

For the less cynical amongst your readers, perhaps I can direct them to the article I wrote for HSJ ('Hard Sell', page 30, 23 February 1995), which tried to encapsulate in several hundred words what marketing was all about. Although marketing theory has moved on in the past 10 years, the basic philosophy of putting the customer, patient or client at the heart of the marketing process certainly has not.

Gail Cartmail, national officer, Health Amicus I read with incredulity your article on the Department of Health's new NHS 'marketing intelligence unit' - so much so that I looked up the date to double check it was not an April fool.

An internal marketing department to 'sell' trusts to patients must be the biggest waste of money ever in the NHS. The whole concept of 'marketing' the NHS is an expensive misnomer.

Patient needs are not difficult to comprehend. All they want is timely, efficient service and good standards of care. The marketing intelligence unit appears to be another expensive obstacle to trusts achieving those aims.