The Department of Health has declared the NHS 'ready' for the millennium date change.

Planning director Alasdair Liddell said last week that 'the NHS is 100 per cent 'blue'' on the Action 2000 traffic light scale' - meaning equipment and IT systems assessments have 'not identified any risk of material disruption'.

The announcement came as Action 2000's national infrastructure forum said UK services were generally ready to deliver 'business as usual', with the small number of organisations still to be given a 'blue' coding on course to achieve it by the middle of next month.

Mr Liddell said the NHS had been working to ensure compliance for three years. More than 300,000 different types of critical equipment and systems have been checked in hospitals, GP surgeries and across the service.

The forum, set up in 1998 to ensure the millennium bug causes 'no material disruption' to essential public services, has collated 81 reports on year 2000 readiness into one summary.

The National Infrastructure Assessment Programme 1998-2000 , www.bug2000.co.uk