§ Mr. Milligan
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what is the latest estimate of the money lost by Wessex regional health authority in attempting to install a new computer system; and if she will make a statement on the current situation.
§ Mrs. Virginia Bottomley
[pursuant to the reply, 10 February, column 701]: A comprehensive report in the public interest on this subject was published in July 1992. In addition, the district auditor decided to provide further material to Wessex regional health authority in confidence, to enable the authority to pursue all avenues for legal action. When I was informed of these documents, I instructed the chief executive of the national health service to ensure that rigorous remedial action was taken by the region and closely monitored by the national health service management executive; and that every opportunity for legal and police action was fully explored. Wessex regional health authority made all the material available to the police, whose inquiries are continuing. Legal action is still in progress.
It is very important that these serious matters should be fully studied and lessons learnt. I understand that the Public Accounts Committee has commissioned a further 827W report on the project from the Comptroller and Auditor General and I shall consider it very carefully. It is important that as much information as possible should be in the public domain. With regard to the confidential reports to the regional health authority, I am advised that under section 30 of the Local Government Finance Act 1982, disclosure would require the consent of the people to whom the information relates. All the major points of concern are, however, set out very fully in the district auditor's public report.