Published: 05/12/2002, Volume112 No. 5834 Page 22

As chair of one of the four firstwave care trusts to be launched earlier this year, I was disappointed to read that more than half of the nine due to go live next April could be delayed or abandoned ('Care trusts stall amid lack of finitty grittyfl detail', news, 14 November).

When we launched almost eight months ago, we too were concerned about the lack of clarity. Some of that ambiguity still exists: for instance, we are past our mid-way point and still awaiting confirmation about the performance targets against which we shall be assessed this current year.

Writing with the benefit of hindsight, however, I can say that the opportunities that care trust status has opened up for the diverse population we serve (including some of the most deprived health communities in the country) has far outweighed any lack of national guidance.

Partnership-working between health and social care agencies has strengthened, staff morale and communications have improved, care packages now enjoy greater flexibility and innovation. Working as a single organisation we can focus more clearly on the needs of a client group and when action is required we can respond speedily and with fewer bureaucratic obstacles in our path.

We are very keen for other 'shadow' care trusts to learn from our experiences - both the good and the not-so-good - to give them the confidence to continue with their planned launches next spring. We would be pleased to act as a 'broker' in setting up a joint working group to look at some of the burning issues facing care trusts and how we are tackling them.

Similarly, we would like to extend an invitation to all future pilot schemes to come to Bradford and see the approach we have taken.

Make no mistake, it has taken a great deal of hard work, commitment and skill from our staff - and in Bradford District care trust I am pleased to say we have no shortage of these assets - to create the platform for change that is now in place.

But it is the enthusiasm for being part of something new;

something exciting. Something that staff feel can actually make a difference to people's lives; that has really opened up a new era of care for staff and clients alike.

It was always our ambition to take an adage from the 19th century - 'that the whole is greater than sum of its parts' - and prove that its sentiments still held true in the NHS of the 21st century. We remain confident of being able to achieve this.

Linda Pollard Chair Bradford District care trust