Following HSJ's revelation last week that the Department of Health is projecting 2.1 per cent of trusts will fail each year for the next 20 years, we have been accused of misrepresenting policy.

In a letter to HSJ this week, David Flory, director general of NHS finance, performance and operations, claims our article and leader failed to take account of the impact of the performance regime or Monitor's compliance framework.

He claims the DH has "no doubt" far less than 2.1 per cent of trusts - which would total 92 trusts over the two decades - will fail each year.

A conservative estimate

So how does Mr Flory square this with the fact that the paper we quoted, which was signed by health minister Ben Bradshaw, went on to describe 2.1 per cent as a conservative estimate?

The DH has also claimed this figure was simply for "modelling purposes". Do DH mandarins have so much time on their hands that they can while away the hours modelling things they never expect to happen? Why not model what they do expect to happen instead?

It sound suspiciously like two parts of the DH are failing to communicate - not a unique occurrence. Perhaps the department could end the confusion by explaining why the minister has signed a paper that says the projected 2.1 per cent failure rate is a conservative estimate, and tell us what failure rate the government is now anticipating.