Published: 11/08/2005, Volume II5, No. 5967 Page 17

Lorraine Foley, head of informatics, Healthcare Commission

HSJ's comprehensive coverage on the results of the 2005 starratings and the new system of assessment highlighted a number of key issues that the Healthcare Commission has sought to raise (news, pages 6-9 and news analysis, pages 14-15, 28 July).

However I would like to clarify a few points.

We have said that the sum of the overspend by NHS trusts that failed the financial targets comes to nearly£500m.

This is different to saying that the NHS as a whole has a£500m deficit. The overspend by these trusts would of course be offset by under-spending in other trusts.

I understand that the Department of Health is anticipating an overall NHS deficit of around£140m.

I would also like to clarify that the Healthcare Commission will launch its programme of improvement reviews this August, and not next year as your report suggests.

Stephen Firn, chief executive, Oxleas trust

HSJ has shown an admirable level of coverage of mental health issues in recent months.

It was therefore particularly disappointing that the performance of mental health trusts did not receive a mention in your coverage of this year's starratings.

Across England, there were more three and two-star mental health trusts and fewer one and zerorated mental health trusts than in 2004.

Whatever the vagaries of the rating system, this outcome was surely worthy of comment.

The outcome of this year's ratings mean that five mental health trusts are progressing as part of the current wave of foundation trust applicants.

These trusts will play an important role in developing new ways of providing mental health and local care, as well as influencing the shape of national policies such as payment by results.