The NHS information Authority has published a reminder that the consultation period for the Office of the e-Envoy’s draft Government Policy on Open Source Software (OSS) is drawing to a close.

The closing date for consultation on the draft policy document, first published in December 2001, is 12 March 2002.

This policy will apply to NHS organisations and will have implications for IT procurement across the health service. Trusts and Health Authorities are urged to make a response to this document.

OSS is described in a recent Government report as: "software whose source code is openly published, is usually available at no charge, and which is often developed by voluntary efforts."

OSS has come to prominence by starting to take a significant market share in some specific parts of the software infrastructure market where OSS products have often demonstrated better quality and reliability than commercial equivalents at a lower cost.

A recent White Paper on OSS and the NHS identified potential benefits to the NHS from the use of OSS and outlined a number of possible central initiatives that would encourage its increased use.