NSW moves health IT to new agency

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NSW moves health IT to new agency

Major revamp announced.

NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner has revealed the creation of a new agency called eHealth NSW to look after IT services across the state's healthcare system.

The Government said today that ICT statewide services would become eHealth NSW, a "separate administrative unit within the Health Administration Corporation".

Previously, ICT came under the remit of a broad shared services division called Health Support Services.

Health Support Services, which also covered HR and amenity responsibilties, would be renamed HealthShare NSW and maintain all responsibilities except those of ICT under the revamp.

In addition to assuming ICT responsibilities, eHealth NSW would also take e-health roles that were previously shared between the Department and Health Support Services.

"We will create [the] new agency ... to drive innovation, improve implementation of vital electronic health initiatives and provide support to the districts and their facilities," Skinner said.

The Government likened the current ICT governance model to a "half-way house" where staff, functions and responsibilities were spread across multiple agencies and area health services.

"Successful ehealth implementations on the scale of NSW Health require whole-of-system commitment and strong leadership at the highest levels," NSW Health director-general Mary Foley said in a report released today.

"To assist realisation of this objective, it is proposed that there is a consolidation of ICT strategic and planning functions".

eHealth NSW would become the "system leader for the NSW Health information strategy, forward planning and delivery", the report said.

"It is critical that an early objective of eHealth NSW is a re-setting of strategy based on extensive consultation with clinicians and other users and the redesign of ICT governance to ensure clear statewide plans and an appropriate balance with local initiatives," the report noted.

Skinner said that implementation of the revamp would begin immediately and wrap up by the end of the year.

The move was welcomed by CSC's national director for health services Lisa Pettigrew, who said it "put e-health and IT at the centre of healthcare delivery".

"No longer is IT a backoffice function as this structure demonstrates that technology is a necessary part of a modern, safe and quality healthcare system that is fundamental to healthcare service delivery," Pettigrew said.

Other initiatives would see a major restructure of the health system to remove a layer of "middle management". About 300 jobs were earmarked to be cut.

A spokesperson for Skinner was unable to confirm whether any cuts would be made to jobs related to ICT or e-health.

They were similarly unable to clarify who would become chief executive of the newly formed body.

Requests for clarification from NSW Health chief information officer Greg Wells went unanswered.

The moves were expected to free up over $80 million for frontline services.

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