Action 2000 launched a raft of measures last week to ensure that public services will not be damaged by the Year 2000 problem - but chairman Don Cruickshank admitted that the money to fix the problem in the National Health Service (NHS) may have to come from patient care.
"It is clear that the public sector is lagging behind private industry," he said. "In the NHS, some trusts are lagging three and nine months behind, and laggards may have to divert money from patient care."
Under the Action 2000 plans, three working groups will be set up to bring together companies and organisations responsible for providing public services, including power, water, telecoms, health and emergency services.
The groups will consist of executives from the organisations concerned as well as industry regulators.
"People expect public services to be delivered to them, regardless of whether they are in public or private ownership, and regardless of the millennium bug or any other factor," said Cruickshank.
However, holding more meetings is not the way to progress, according to Robin Guernier, head of Taskforce 2000. "At the end of March, Tony Blair said the bug should be tackled as an emergency, but I don't see this happening at the moment," he argued. "We did not approach Dunkirk by holding meetings."
Guernier called for the CEOs of utilities to make personal statements about their confidence in meeting the millennium deadline, also explaining contingency plans that would be put in place.
Gwynneth Flower, director of Action 2000, admitted that the water utilities had been slow in realising the seriousness of the millennium bug.
"I have met with the chiefs of water companies and they have recently become aware of the problem," she said. "It is late for them to become involved but they are beginning to take it more seriously."
Action 2000 will oversee the risk assessment of the inter-dependence between public services and focus on international sectors, such as banking, vulnerable to system failure outside the UK.
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