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Volume 404: debated on Monday 28 April 2003

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Mr. Yeo: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the (a) cost of and (b) number of visitors to each website operated by his Department and each agency and non-departmental public body for which his Department is responsible in each year since its establishment. [107635]

The Department of Health's website ( was established in June 1995. The cost of the Department's website is shown in the table.

Financial yearTotal cost (£000)
These figures include hosting and maintenance, development and estimated staff costs (based on agreed Civil Service staff costs including salaries, common services etc.). Costs for earlier years are not available separately from the total information technology costs.The Office of Government Commerce (OGC) provided hosting until the end of June 2002. While its website was hosted at OGC, the Department used page impressions rather than hits as a measure of usage. The figures for the years 1996 to 2001 are shown in the table.

Calendar yearPage impressions
1996(estimated) 200,000
1997(estimated) 520,000


1. These figures include both static HTML content and Domino database content.

2. Website usage for 1995–97 is estimated (based on average weekly figures).

Since June 2002, EDS Ltd. has been the hosting provider for the Department's website. Comparable usage figures for the calendar year 2002 are unavailable. EDS provides a monthly service report that includes a web performance return in which traffic to the Department's website is measured in 'visits'.

The number of visits to the Department's static HTML website between July 2002 and March 2003 averaged 885,123 visits per month. In each month of this year to date the number of visits has been over one million. It should be noted, however, that this figure does not include visits to any of the 65 Domino databases, which form part of the Departments' site. Visit counts for these databases are currently unavailable.

To identify the costs and the number of visitors to each agency and non-departmental public body website associated with the Department of Health, which are not all directly operated by the Department, would incur disproportionate costs. However, the available information about each of the Department's Executive Agencies' websites is listed as follows:

NHS Pensions Agency (

Information on visitors to and costs of the site is shown in the table.





Total visitors to internet site


Total visitors to NHSnet site



Capital costs of the site344,100



Annual budget for running the site50,500



1Prior to March 2002, the above information was not analysed and no logs are available.

2The site did not go fully live until March 2002, and at present, covers Employing Authorities and not GPs. A range of applications for NHS Employers, an extension of web-based forms for updating, were developed in late 2002 and released early in 2003, which accounts for the increased level of traffic. Currently, for security reasons this is only available on the NHSnet version of the site, but it is planned to extend to the public internet site when security can be assured.

3IT FM and Development services were outsourced from January 2002 to Envision and most of the costs are absorbed within their overall contract price for all services over the lifetime of the contract and are therefore difficult to apportion.

4Capital costs: Development costs are included and cover the running and supporting of three sites: Internet, Intranet and NHSnet. We did not have time to apportion equipment costs and post 31 December 2001 they are built into the overall contract price and not separately identified. The costs included prior to 31 December 2001 are for site development using outsourced staff.

The NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency (www.pasa

The NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency was established on 1 April 2000. Information on visitors to and cost of the site is shown in the table.




Total cost (£)30,00087,000121,000
Total visitors288,000384,000468,000


1. Total costs include cost of staff salaries.

2. 'Visitors' is the number of people entering the website via the home page (excluding those who have bookmarked favourite pages), and is not the number of hits on the site (which would be far higher).

3. Costs exclude externally hosted website applications.

The Medicines Control Agency (MCA) (

The MCA is unable to isolate the cost of the website from general IT costs and only has website usage figures available from November 2001. These are shown in the table.

Calendar year

Page impressions

2001 (2 months)38,919
2002 (12 months)9,542,720
2003(3 months)3,233,937

The Medical Devices Agency (MDA) (

The MDA's website was set up in 1998. The cost of the MDA's website is shown in the table. They include hosting and maintenance, development and staffing costs based on agreed Civil Service staff costs (including salaries, common services, etc).

Financial year

Total Cost (£000)


The increase in hosting and maintenance charges between 2002 and 2003 was caused by the OGC's decision to drop its role as an Internet service provider, requiring MDA to transfer its website to a commercial provider. The current hosting supplier is Interliant.

In 2000 a major redevelopment was initiated to prepare the site as the primary mechanism for meeting the e-government target of 2005 for delivery of services electronically. The announcement of the merger of MDA and the MCA to form the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) from 1 April 2003 has resulted in a new site for MHRA, which links to the existing MCA and MDA sites. A fully integrated website for MHRA is planned.

The OGC provided hosting until the end of February 2002. While its website was hosted at OGC, MDA used page impressions rather than hits as a measure of usage. With the move to Interliant, other statistics have become available but the page impressions statistic is used in the following table to allow comparison. The figures for the five years from 1998 to 2002 are shown.

Calendar Year

Page Impressions




1Partial estimate—figures not available for end of year.

NHS Estates (

The NHS Estates website was created in September 2000. At 31 March 2003, the total cost of establishing the site and maintaining it was £267,100. During the period 1 April 2002 to 31 March 2003, the total number of hits to the site was 16,783,592. Earlier figures are not available.