May I correct one aspect of your news item on the recent King's Fund debate on the future of professional selfregulation (page 9, 15 June).

My point was not to shift the blame for alleged failings of the General Medical Council or UK Central Council for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting on to managers, but to indicate that in most large organisations 85 per cent of serious incidents are systems failures and only 15 per cent are attributable to individuals' actions or omissions.

This means that many of the rising number of complaints to the GMC and other professional regulatory bodies are inappropriate and often too late for both the patient and the clinician. The role of professionally led bodies is to maintain a register of professionals currently fit to practise, and to establish the standards and processes by which this can be judged. It should not be to act as a general complaints service.

While I argued for clearer public accountability, and support lay people's increased involvement in the regulatory bodies, I strongly support their governing councils having a professional majority and a professional chair. Only this will ensure health professionals' actions will continue to be governed by their consciences as well as their contracts of employment and external review mechanisms.

Bob Nicholls Lay member General Medical Council