Letters

It should be pointed out that the victim of the eight-month fiasco at the Guild Community Health Care trust is its former chief executive, Les Howell (news, 10 June). After 34 years in the NHS, as nurse and manager, Mr Howell has been sacked without warning and without process. His career may well be destroyed, and there is no one who can give a good reason why this should be the case. With the First Division Association's support, he is appealing the decision.

Cases like Mr Howell's - and there are others - show two things.

First, the NHS throws all fairness and process out of the window when it deals with its chief executives as employees. The NHS needs robust machinery to sort out disputes in trust and health authority boardrooms - machinery that is independent and fair, and seen as such by all parties. This ought to mean a panel of heavy hitters, independent of the local HAs, trusts and regional office.

Second, regional offices operate in the dark when they get involved on the ground. Regional offices - right or wrong - do wield power and influence outside their formal brief. Let's get this out in the open so chief executives and their boards know where they stand and what to expect.

Jonathan Restell Negotiator FDA London SW1