I note you say 'human resources managers and nursing directors have pulled out all the stops in their bid to attract nurses' (news focus, pages 12-13, 11 October).

I experienced these efforts indirectly when my partner, a senior nurse with 23 years' experience, considered returning to nursing last year after a muchneeded break. Having rung the advertised helpline number three times and left three messages that were not returned, she made an heroic fourth attempt and someone actually answered the phone and took her name.

Two weeks later, a member of a human resources team rang in the early afternoon (while my partner was out earning her living another way) and asked her to call back within the hour as the caller was about to go on holiday for (another) two weeks.

When contact was finally made some weeks later, my partner was told she would be required to pay her way during her retraining period and find her own placements - not quite the flexible working environment promised in the advertisement.

The experience convinced my partner that she had made the right decision in the first place and - surprise, surprise - she did not return to the health service.

I, for one, am not in the least surprised the NHS still has a problem with recruitment.

K Thomas Manchester