Published: 12/12/2001, Volume II2, No. 5835 Page 23

Your cover feature, 'Take me to your leader' (pages 24-29, 28 November) reported considerable enthusiasm for the role of modern matron within the NHS. You added that a 'national evaluation' would prove the effectiveness of this innovation.

Interest in modern matrons is indeed intense. My team applied to evaluate the role, only to find the budget was just£70,000 and to be delivered in just 12 months, with the clock ticking almost immediately.

One cannot envisage similar tokenism for a major medical management initiative. By design, it appears to harness the Hawthorne effect, where turning the spotlight on staff for an intense but short period produces desirable effects. This is no way to create a credible evidence base for management.

Professor Louise Wallace Director, Coventry University health services research centre