Can I assure your Australian contributor, Allison Hartman, ('We need standard bearers', e-novation, page 1, 15 March) that contrary to her article, NHS data standards are alive and kicking. Standards for administrative data have been published and in use for 10 years or more, and standards for clinical data are in use - for example, in pathology messages.

In addition, data standards to support the new conditionbased data sets are currently under development.

NHS computer systems are required to adhere to these standards, which are agreed for the NHS in England by representatives from the NHS, the Department of Health and the Computing Services and Software Association.

Among other areas, the standards are incorporated in national commissioning data set data flows, where millions of records flow annually to provide information on health needs and care planning, and supply hospital episode statistics for the DoH.

Janet Assheton Data Standards Programme NHS Information Authority