NSW Health expects to find out in June next year whether or not the NSW Treasury will fully approve its business case for a third phase of its ICT infrastructure program, and fund it accordingly.
Speaking at an AIIA briefing on Tuesday 28 August, Health Chief Information Officer Greg Wells told delegates that it is a “long and heavy process” to secure allocations for major projects.
“We submitted an infrastructure business case to Treasury in January this year and that is an 18 month process, to be completed in June next year,” he said.
Phases 1 and 2 of NSW Health’s infrastructure reforms have already received significant allocations in past NSW Budgets. Phase 1 was initially funded in the 2009-10 Budget at a value of $38.6 million for the four years 2009 to 2013. Phase 2 was initially funded in the 2011-12 Budget at a value of $47.1 million for the four years 2011 to 2015.
The timing means that Phase 3 of the infrastructure program will form the next major injection of funding into the NSW Health ICT Strategy, whether or not it is approved in time for inclusion in the 2013-14 Budget Papers.
Wells explained that the infrastructure strategy forms the foundation of the Department’s ten year, $1.5 billion ICT agenda.
“We are upgrading our data centres, making them more resilient and getting ready for a migration to the whole of government data centre. We are looking to establish a single network for Health that has diverse paths and increases bandwidth to support telehealth as it comes in.
“These are really fundamental building blocks for what we want to achieve, so we have explained to Treasury that if the Government doesn’t support the infrastructure program then there’s not much point going ahead with everything else,” he said.
Phase 3 is due to get underway in the 2013-14 financial year, and continue through to 2016-17. It brings NSW Health near the midway point of a six-phase infrastructure program which will continue past 2021.
Wells also said that he expected “announcements within the coming month” about a new ICT Strategy for NSW Health and a restructure of its ICT functions. Under a Department-wide realignment announced just over a year ago, authority for ICT will be moved from the Ministry of Health and the corporate shared services unit Health Support Services (HSS), and consolidated into a stand-alone ICT entity called eHealth NSW.
“We are pretty much funded to do the main tranche of programs that we already have underway. But certainly there will be some different structures introduced by the new Strategy and eHealth NSW,” Wells said.