Published: 27/05/2004, Volume II4, No. 5907 Page 23

HSJ's column made the claim that 'there have been fewer than 10 enquiries' following NHS chief executive Sir Nigel Crisp's call for leaders to mentor staff from black and minority ethnic backgrounds (HSJ People, pages 34-35, 20 May).

Nothing could be further from the truth.Many NHS leaders were mentoring BME staff before the launch of the plan in February.

Since then mentoring has been taken up with enthusiasm by the NHS, and here at the NHS Leadership Centre we have provided guidance and training for those who need it.

By our latest count, there were 288 mentoring arrangements in place and we have mentoring workshops planned with capacity for 624. And there are NHS organisations with sophisticated leadership development programmes for BME staff which offer mentoring as part of a wider programme of development.

The suggestion that the NHS is not interested in mentoring is both cynical and wrong - and does a disservice to all of those who are working hard to ensure equality of opportunity for NHS staff, irrespective of background.

Penny Humphris Director NHS Leadership Centre