Published: 12/12/2001, Volume II2, No. 5835 Page 22 23

I was pleased to note the positive comments made about mediation in 'The Claim Game' (law special report, pages 31-32, 7 November). However, I want to pick up on Bevan Ashford NHS claims department head Christian Dingwall's comment that it should not be used for anything other than the biggest claims because 'it is not a cheap option'.

The earlier you start the process the better the results because it prevents misunderstandings and feelings ofmistrust becoming entrenched for either party. After years dealing with complaints in the NHS, I know only too well the cost in terms of managerial time and individuals' stress levels.

This cost can be much reduced by using the mediation process early and the outcome will be more constructive and positive.

Sue Howard Mediator Lets Talk UK