In your report on the annual conference of the Association of Community Health Councils (News Focus, 23 July), David Spilsbury of South Birmingham CHC seems to feel that the CHC should be and is the only organisation to represent patients' views.

While it is the only one that does so by statute, other organisations play a major role. The Patients Association is one of these, and contrary to Mr Spilsbury's comments, does represent many people, not least our members. We listen to patients and press for changes in the NHS. Our views are frequently sought on key issues, as is our assistance in helping to improve services.

My own input comes from having been a heavy user of NHS services over the past eight years, including a year at a rehabilitation centre. I am also a member of a successful patients' council, and it is this experience that I am often asked to share.

The New NHS white paper paid little attention to the CHC's future role. Will the CHC survive as we know it, or will there be a change to 'patient- led' groups of people who have no allegiance to a voluntary organisation or local authority?

Our strength comes from working together rather than adopting what appears to be a rather parochial stance to patient involvement.

Ian Semmons

National council member

The Patients Association