It is unhelpful, if not unexpected, for Christine Hancock to include in her farewell speech to the RCN conference a throwaway line 'knocking' the private sector.

In fact, as the government has recognised, private sector companies have a crucial role in the drive for better healthcare.

A flexible approach is the best way to raise standards. Oldfashioned attitudes of confrontation and protectionism do nothing to support this drive.

We in the private sector are committed to working with the government, with clinical professionals and hospital trust managers to deliver high-quality services in our hospitals.

We welcome the rigour with which quality control standards have been applied and recognise there are clear lessons to be learned on all sides from earlier reviews of service provision. For the sake of the patients, we must all now work together to ensure continuing improvements.

Norman H Rose Director-general Business Services Association London EC2