In her report on the Scottish National Party's People's assembly on health (News Focus, page 16, 15 October), headed 'SNP: still no policies', Barbara Millar lists SNP plans to establish an all-party Scottish healthcare commission including outsiders with expertise among its ranks, a democratic input into health boards and local healthcare co-operatives, a public health portfolio and a transparent national framework for the transfer of resources between health and social services.

She did not mention the plans, also discussed at the assembly, to make local healthcare co-operatives responsible for commissioning hospital services and for the abolition of primary care trusts in the form envisaged by the present government.

No policies? Come off it.

I suppose your misleading headline and introduction can be technically justified as these are policy intentions - the aim of the people's assembly and other consultative exercises is to meet interested parties in health and benefit from their wisdom and experience.

The final health policy will appear in the manifesto in plenty of time to be debated before the election in May.

But if the SNP stated a firm and immutable health policy before the people's assembly, you would be perfectly justified in criticising the assembly as nothing but a token exercise in consultation.

It is a case of heads you win, tails I lose.

Politicians are often criticised because they go ahead with sweeping changes without properly consulting those affected by them.

It is a pity that when one political party makes a genuine attempt to break free from this tradition it is stigmatised as having no policy.

Or is it simply that your sub-editor did not read the report?

Dr Ian McKee

Assistant health spokesperson

Scottish National Party