Letters

You report the sad news that beacon sites are cancelling open days for lack of support (news, page 6, 2 March). I am not surprised. While it is surely true that any bright idea hoisted by political hyperbole is bound to misfire in this cynical service, there are other problems which undermine spreading good practice.

Recently the King's Fund held a workshop to explore the features of multi-professional teamworking that contributed to success. Senior health service managers, academics, educators and innovators attended.

We invited a number of prizewinning teams from all parts of the NHS.

Some were beacon sites, but none of the beacons was able to attend to share their experience, analysis and vision. Why? Because they could not get away from providing their beacon service to talk about what they had achieved and how.

Hard-pressed staff in struggling units are even less likely to be able to leave their grindstones to travel to beacon sites in the vague hope of learning something. If people from these sites had support to travel to more central events, and training in how to present their achievements in a constructive way, more people might take the risk of venturing to see them in action.

Spreading good practice is a young science. To benefit, people need to know what it is that works, why it works and how to apply it at home.

Just going to look may answer none of these questions. Who can risk wasting time in the NHS today?

Alison Hill Director Effective practice programme King's Fund