Letters

We write to correct an inaccuracy in your news focus, 'On the critical list' (pages 13-15, 16 November).

In referring to the March 2000 report of the external review into North Lakeland Healthcare trust, your article describes the panel as 'made up of the trust, North Cumbria health authority and Northern and Yorkshire regional office'. This was not the case.

In December 1998 allegations of patient abuse were made against certain staff caring for patients on Kielder House at Garlands Hospital, Carlisle. An internal inquiry leading to disciplinary action was completed by North Lakeland trust in March 1999.

At the instigation of Northern and Yorkshire regional office the trust chair set up an external review panel to look at the handling of the 1998 investigation and related matters.

We, as a completely independent external review panel, produced a highly critical report in March 2000, which found several interwoven strands representing a combination of causal factors all contributing to a very sad and indefensible situation where patients were seriously mistreated by a small number of staff.

In the wake of our review, the secretary of state asked the Commission for Health Improvement to investigate the trust, and CHI's report has made full use of our findings.

Dianne M Jeffrey Chair Community Health Care Service (North Derbyshire) trust, AJD Macdonald Professor of old-age psychiatry Guy's, King's and St Thomas' Schools of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences London, Charlie Brooker Professor of mental health School for health and related research Sheffield University