§ Dr. Stoate
To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will extend the period of the pilot projects on electronic prescribing. 
§ Ms Rosie Winterton
The electronic transmission of prescriptions pilots have demonstrated that prescriptions can be transmitted electronically in an accurate and secure manner, and now having served their intended purpose they will be formally closed with effect from the end of June 2003. In order to ensure that patients do not experience difficulties in obtaining their prescriptions and minimise inconvenience to healthcare professionals an appropriate timeframe for ceasing the processing of electronic prescriptions will be agreed with the remaining pilots.
The pilots have been independently evaluated and this information is being used by the National Programme for National Health Service Information Technology to develop a sustainable, national prescription service.