Queensland Premier Anna Bligh has unveiled plans to split troubled Queensland Health into two organisations in a bid to fix ongoing problems with the government department.
Under the plan announced today, Health will be separated into a ‘Hospitals and Health Care Agency’ focused on delivery of health services and ‘Health Services Support Agency’ focused on provision of corporate services such as finance, HR and ICT. The latter will employ between 3500 and 4000 staff.
Premier Bligh said a Director-General will be appointed for both agencies. One will be "entirely responsible for those activities, responsible for excellence in corporate functions and support, whether it’s finances, HR or IT."
A similar separation of health services and support infrastructure was unveiled by NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner earlier this year.
Bligh has appointed KPMG’s national health practice leader Shane Solomon to come up with a plan by January 23 next year, before the agency is split by July 1.
Queensland Health, which hires some 80,000 Australians, has suffered a series of embarrassing project failures including a glitch in its payroll system which left thousands of staff unpaid and the more recent theft of $16 million by an employee in the agency’s finance division.
“Queensland Health as we know it is over,” Bligh said. “Queenslanders can no longer tolerate the sick administrative performance of this mammoth organisation.
“For some time now the administration of Queensland Health has been suffering because the current organisation is just too big. We have done everything possible to turn this ship around.
"We have doubled the budget, implemented every reform and accepted every recommendation of a Commission of Inquiry and extensive reviews.”
There will be “no more reviews, no more taskforces or committees,” Bligh said.
Bligh noted that it was "corporate areas" such as IT, finance and HR, "where Queensland Health is failing."
She said the department's annual turnover put it in the top half of the Fortune 500 with its corporate services unit alone employing more people that the country's largest accounting firms.
“The demolition of this agency is about giving people the structures and the leadership they need to do the work they want to do," Bligh said.
“It is time to start again."
ICT staff in the latter will have grown familiar with such transitions – ICT services were previously supplied to Queensland Health by shared services organisation CorpTech prior to the payroll bungle, after which these roles were brought back in-house.
Lobbyist Bruce Mills trashed the move to split Queensland Health as "policy on the run".
"It is just shared services by another name," he told iTnews in an email. "The Queensland Government have [sic] shown they are unable to manage the fundamental part of any shared services implementation, which is change management.
"[Queensland Health] already has a culture of us against them (Admin Head Office vs. Medical (Doctors, Nurses) this will just make the problem worse with to separate organisations competing for budget."