We noted with interest the advertisement (page 57, 21 May) for a production quality control manager at University Hospital Birmingham trust's sterile services department.

While we would not wish to comment on the salary offered by any particular institution, we wish to draw attention to the low range of salaries generally offered for a highly-specialised technical role.

The European general medical devices directive 93/94 EEC will demand compliance by sterile services departments. To understand the complex regulatory framework, highly- skilled professionals are needed.

Since the introduction of centrally focused hospital sterilisation departments over 35 years ago, the NHS has relied on the goodwill of workers and failed in many circumstances to invest adequately in training for this important clinical support group. Professional groups such as the Institute of Sterile Services Management and the European Society for Hospital Sterile Supply have done their best to provide accredited training in order to further professional development.

Without recognition of the wide range of skills needed and without adequate remuneration this initiative will not retain quality managers and good technical staff. They will be attracted to better-paid employment in the medical device industry.

Acknowledgement of the importance of sterile services must be reflected in rewards.

We urge employing authorities to look at the level of payments offered to this key group of health workers.

John D Hansford James C St George Gillian A Sills (all former NHS sterile service managers) Healthcare Technology Associates London N1