asked Her Majesty's Government:What is the detailed timetable for setting up NHS Direct by the year 2000; and what resources, beyond the £14 million recently announced, are planned to be made available for the service when it is fully operational. [HL3278]
The first three pilots of NHS Direct were set up in March 1998. My honourable friend the Minister of State for Health announced a second wave on 4 August, which will be up and running in the first half of 1999 and take coverage of NHS Direct up to over 40 per cent. of the population. Fourteen million pounds has been allocated to funding NHS Direct in this financial year and at least £35 million will be spent during the 1999–2000 financial year on the second wave. A third wave will follow before national roll-out in the year 2000. We will be examining suitable funding levels for NHS Direct as part of our evaluation of these pilots and, on current estimates, we expect NHS Direct to cost something between £1 and £2 per head of the population annually.