The business case for NHSmail2 is worth up to £20m a year and has been approved by a sub-group of the national health informatics co-ordinating body.

The case is now subject to confirmation of affordability by the Star Chamber – a collection of NHS England senior managers.

The update is provided in a report from the Investment Approvals Sub-Group at the Informatics Services Commissioning Group meeting today.

The ISCG has members from across the health and social care system and is chaired by NHS England’s national director for patients and information, Tiim Kelsey.

“The outline business case for NHS Mail 2 was approved for onward submission subject to affordability being confirmed at the Star Chamber,” the investment report says.

“The £20m per annum funding envelope condition was discussed and clarified at the meeting.”

A nine year contract for NHSmail was awarded to Cable and Wireless in 2004 and was worth around £30m a year. This has been extended to June 2014.

Procurement of version two of the mail service will be done by creating a secure email ‘lot’ on the Public Services Network framework. A new contract is expected to be awarded in late summer 2014.

The investment report also says that the strategic outline case for NHS Choices is in development and will provide cover for the current offering until the new service is available and contracts are drawn up.

NHS Choices is supposed to be being replaced by a Health and Social Care Digital Service, which was previously called the Integrated Customer Service Platform. Dubbed “the daughter of NHS Choices”, it aims to be the new ‘digital front door’ to the NHS.

The platform was due to have a beta launch in November. This was going to include; a symptom checker; GP appointment booking; a health apps library; web chat, ratings of services and ordering online repeat prescriptions.

However, an update on the programme presented to the ISCG today says the launch will now be in January, “due to unexpected delays in procuring the platform”.