Published: 30/06/2005, Volume II5, No. 5962 Page 21

Martin Prestage, Crowborough, East Sussex

Your piece about 'dysfunctional' NHS boards (news analysis, pages 16-17, 16 June) struck a chord with me.

As a former head of communications for a health authority and a primary care trust, I was very aware of the cowed nature of most non-executive directors, who mostly toed the line set by the chair and chief executive. It made for extraordinarily dull public board meetings, with any possible dissent ironed out in earlier board 'briefings', where the forthcoming comments of the non-executives would be almost scripted.

After six years in the NHS I turned freelance, but still remain passionately interested in the politics of the NHS and the amazing service that trusts offer to their communities. So I applied to be a non-executive myself.

Two rejections later I have given up. In both cases I did not even reach interview stage, despite being in the community covered by each trust and, in the first application (a mental health trust) having been a 'service user' myself a few years back. In both cases I got a totally uninformative rejection letter from the NHS Appointments Commission.

Part of me would like to know why I was rejected out of hand twice, but my instincts tell me I had 'trouble' stamped all over my application - a communications specialist, a former service user, someone who might have views to put forward which could rock the boat.

That is not what the Appointments Commission is looking for. I am sure I am not the only one to have been turned down for similar reasons.