The firm that supplies the decision support software which forms the basis of the NHS Direct, NHS Direct Wales and Scotland’s NHS 24 telephone-based triage systems has been acquired by a consortium of investment companies, with the view of expanding overseas.

CAS Services Ltd, the software company that has been supplying the ‘back end’ of NHS Direct since its national rollout in November 2000, has been taken over by investment groups Allco Finance Group and Benchmark and private equity firm Bridgepoint. No financial details of the deal were released.

Robert Thompson, chief executive of CAS, said that the investment would enable them to sell their decision support software internationally. "We have demonstrated our ability to deliver decision support systems that guide our customers to provide safe and consistent outcomes," he said.

"This injection of investment will enable us to broaden our portfolio of solutions and roll out our services to more national and international customers, particularly in Europe, US and Australasia." CAS has already won contracts for bringing similar national triage services to Greece and Portugal.

The software consists of a script-based system where a tree of questions and possible answers are offered to the nurse. Based on the patient’s responses, the software offers advice as to the most effective way of dealing with the health problem and the most appropriate referral point into the NHS.

Thompson told E-Health Insider that the extra investment and backing should improve service. "Our customers are wholly supportive of this change in ownership and of having an even stronger partner able to develop new capabilities in line with their strategies and the ever increasing demands on their services.

"Going forward, we’ll continue to work very closely with all of our clients especially NHS Direct England and Wales and NHS-24 to bring them new capabilities, expand the services that they offer, and bring them increased flexibility.

"The new investment also enables us to tackle new markets. The market leading solution that we have developed and are evolving in the UK markets provides the blueprint for other countries looking to modernise their health services."

Bridgepoint partner, Rob Moores, said: "Health systems constantly face issues in managing unscheduled demand. NHS Direct, supported by CAS, has contributed to a more efficient utilisation of existing healthcare resources as well as providing a valued public service.

"This is a model that has applications elsewhere in the world and CAS has first mover advantage."

Bridgepoint’s portfolio also includes eBay, online sports betting site Betfair, and Linux supplier Red Hat.