Mike Waterland accuses me of wanting 'centralist planning with minimum public involvement' (Letters, 11 December).

Not so. We advocate maximum public involvement based on scientific evidence of the options.

Mr Waterland has declined to say why Birmingham residents should agree to cut acute hospital caseload by 55 per cent, and shift between 53 and 60 per cent of acute bed capacity into 'new settings'.

Nor has he provided adequate information on what these services will look like, how they will be staffed, or where the resources will come from.

Without such information, consultation is simply a mechanism for sharing blame, and those he purports to 'consult' will indeed be 'sacrificial lambs' - the health authority's.

And as for his hilarious suggestion that my co-authors and I were motivated by a desire to divert private finance initiative funding to our own backyards (in the face of valiant attempts by him to grab one-third of the total national pot) we refer him to the formidable published literature on equity in the NHS.

We, too, fear he will be unable to put forward a credible strategy for Birmingham's future health services.

We think this has more to do with Birmingham HA's neglect of information and evidence than with our article.

Accusations to the contrary are a way of shooting the messenger.

Allyson Pollock,

Senior lecturer in public health medicine,

St George's Hospital Medical School,

London SW17.