By the end of 1998 the NHS must be fully prepared, Chief Executive of the NHS, Alan Langlands, said. A letter from Mr Langlands to NHS managers lays out a systematic approach to tackling the issue, and by 31 December 1998, chief executives will ensure that all critical systems are ready and fully tested to cope. Where systems or equipment cannot be repaired or replaced in time, they should ensure that comprehensive action plans are in place.
The NHS Executive will provide a one-stop help desk service to answer queries and give practical assistance to assist the NHS. Mr Langlands said: "Preparing for the year 2000 is now the highest non-clinical priority in the NHS. As Health Service managers our duty is to patients, and our competence is demonstrated by ensuring that we continue to provide high quality services. The Year 2000 is just such a challenge. "Steps have already been taken to raise awareness of this problem, but now is the time for firm and visible action. This issue will be given priority by Chief Executives and senior clinicians in every part of the NHS."