news Queensland Health needs a mammoth $439 million injection of government funding to fix its ailing patient administration system, according to explosive documents tabled in the state’s parliament by the Queensland Opposition yesterday.
The documents represent an extract from Queensland Health’s ICT strategy for 2011. Although they are not yet available online, the Opposition said in a statement yesterday that they state that the current Patient Administration System in use in hospitals and other health facilities within the state could not be supported beyond 2015. Work to replace the e-health platform would need to begin in July 2012, the documents state, according to the Opposition, and the entire replacement project will come at a cost of $438.8 million.
The Opposition stated that this was money which would need to be allocated to Queensland Health on top of an existing $307 million already budgeted for the state’s e-health strategy, and $220 million which has been allocated to fix Queensland Health’s already disastrous payroll systems overhaul.
A failure to fix the Patient Administration System, the strategy notes, could result in “the inability to register, admit, transfer and discharge patients as well as effectively manage clinical and financial patient information”, and the inability to provide information to support quality of care to Queensland patients.
Shadow Minister for Health Mark McArdle damned the Government’s handling of technology projects, based on the report.
“The systemic leadership and management failures of the health payroll system have spread to the entire Queensland Health IT program under Health Minister Geoff Wilson,” said McArdle in a statement. “Put simply, patients’ lives could be put at risk because Labor has failed to properly plan and deliver health IT infrastructure.”
“Hundreds of millions of dollars have been wasted fixing up Labor’s health payroll debacle, and now we learn hundreds of millions of dollars more will need to be spent to ensure patients’ records are accurate … Every Queenslander has the right to ask when will this tired, 20 year old Labor Government finally fix their bungled IT systems?”
Yesterday Bligh said, according to wires services AAP, that it was “normal practice” for government and business to undertake theoretical risk assessments. ” “You don’t have to be a rocket science to realise that if beyond 2015 a health organisation couldn’t maintain its records, there would be an extreme risk,” she reportedly said, noting Queensland Health was currently putting in place a new patient records system.
The release of the report comes as the Queensland Government continues to suffer with its management of substantial technology projects.
A report in June last year by the state’s Auditor-General slammed the governance of three massive state government technology consolidation projects, pointing out that they have all substantially blown their timeframes. And the Labor State Government has also been under fire in the state over its disastrous payroll systems upgrade at Queensland Health, which has resulted in some delays to staff payments and a potential legal disagreement with supplier IBM.
Queensland Premier Anna Bligh last year revealed the state would abandon its centralised IT shared services model as its exclusive structure for delivering IT services in the wake of the Queensland Health payroll disaster and damaging revelations of widespread problems in associated programs.
To start to address some of the problems, Premier Anna Bligh announced in late July this year that the state would recruit a new whole of government chief information officer to aid with IT strategy. Bligh has also welcomed several reports into the Queensland Health payroll systems debacle and committed the Government to continuing action on the matter.
It’s hard to see how things could get any worse for the Bligh Government when it comes to its record on management of critical technology projects. Report after report has highlighted systemic failure in the area. This single issue will no doubt be quite a factor in the next state election.