§ Mr. David Stewart
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to develop electronic prescribing. 
§ Mr. Hutton
[holding answer 17 June 2003]: To take forward the commitments to electronic transmission of prescriptions (ETP) made in "Information for Health, Pharmacy in the Future—Implementing the NHS Plan and Delivering 21st Century IT Support for the NHS", the Department of Health commissioned three pilots in June 2002. The Pilots have been exploring options for linking computerised general practitioner practices to local community pharmacies and the Prescription Pricing Authority using the NHSnet.
Responsibility for the development and implementation of ETP has recently passed to the National Programme for National Health Service information technology. The national programme is reviewing the evaluation reports from the pilots, with a view to putting together a range of options for delivering a robust national model to deliver ETP. The national programme will shortly be making an announcement on how this work will be taken forward.