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Queensland Health corporate services to be transformed...again

by Paris Cowan •
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Queensland Health’s corporate services functions could be forgiven for feeling a bit unwanted of late.

For the second time in just over 12 months it has been announced that the administrative divisions of the Department are being ejected from the agency to which they belong.

After the payroll saga, after the conviction of Jayant Patel and now after the revelation that a Health bureaucrat was able to defraud the Department of $16 million before being detected, Premier Anna Bligh has announced that Queensland Health will be abolished.

“Queensland Health as we know it is over,” she said in a statement on 12 December 2012.

In its place two separate bodies will be formed, one with responsibility for frontline healthcare delivery and another for corporate services.

Many of the corporate services functions at Queensland Health have only recently returned to the Department, after a failed experiment in centralising whole-of-government corporate functions under a single shared services body.

In the wake of the failure of Queensland Health’s payroll system, a review was conducted into these shared services arrangements that criticised the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach and recommended that Health and Education, the largest Queensland Departments, each retain their own corporate services functions in addition to a rest-of-government provider.

Prior to the tripartite split, Queensland Health’s corporate requirements were covered by CorpTech (whole-of-government ICT provider) and the Shared Services Agency (whole-of-government non ICT provider). Afterwards, these responsibilities were returned to Health Department, deemed too big for centralised shared services.

From 1 July 2012, Queensland Health’s corporate services division will be an agency unto itself, according to plans announced by the Premier, which will aim to downsize the mammoth agency in hope of taking greater control over its functions.

“Queensland Health is an enormous organisation.  Its annual turnover puts it in the top half of the Fortune 500. It’s larger than the five biggest companies in Australia, and with 80,000 staff is larger than BP or IKEA worldwide,” said Bligh.

“Big Australian accounting firms like Deloitte for example employ between four and five thousand people. Queensland Health’s corporate services is roughly the same size and is big enough to stand alone and provide similar services to help service deliveries,” she said.

Broken down into Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) staff, Queensland Health employs 67,000 people according to its latest annual report.

By comparison, NSW Health employs more than 95,000 FTE staff. The size of Victoria’s full health sector employment is hard to gauge as frontline staff are employed across a number of regional divisions.

However NSW Health is undergoing a restructure as well, as announced by Health Minister Jillian Skinner in August 2011.

While the changes will not be as drastic as those planned by Bligh, they will also include attempts to flatten out the organisation and as well as a restructure of corporate services.

Skinner announced that a whole layer of bureaucrats at the health cluster level would lose their jobs, as well as another 100 at the Department’s head office.

It was also announced that ICT would be split out of the current Health Shared Services (HSS) division, into its own agency within the Health super department known as eHealth NSW, which will be managed by the Health Administration Corporation.

EHealth NSW is likely to become operational sometime in 2012.

“The recruitment to the position of Chief Executive of ehealth will commence once the governance arrangements for the new ehealth agency have been finalised. It is anticipated this will be in early 2012," a spokesperson for the Department told Intermedium.

The non-ICT functions of HSS will be renamed HealthShare NSW.


Related Articles:

Six months on, reshuffled shared services arrangements still face trouble in Queensland

eHealth and new hospital infrastructure top the tech agenda at Queensland Health

Queensland to establish whole-of-government IT services panel

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