I AM as horrified as anyone about the situations in Stafford Hospital which were responsible for so much suffering to elderly people.

My father-in-law lived in Stafford and towards the end of his life he spent several periods in hospital. We visited him and were always pleased that he seemed comfortable and well looked after, and believe me, Walter was not easily pleased – he died in May 2008, aged 95.

He did mention there were no matrons in charge and that was a pity, but he was well fed, kept clean and could always ask for assistance. The NHS does fail in some ways; the existence of and reliance on targets, and no matrons, always a force for good, though they were often feared, sometimes hated but always respected and obeyed.

As far as caring goes, this cannot be taught – either a person has this precious attribute or not, and nowadays employers do not see caring as a high priority. They offer career opportunities, good salaries and in return they demand degrees and high commitment – but a modicum of tenderness far outweighs all the book learning in the world.

Heather Causnett, Escrick Park Gardens, Escrick, York.