Capital works the big-ticket items in NSW health budget

The NSW government has allocated a small amount of new money to eHealth capabilities in this year's state budget, including $5 million to increase eHealth network capacity in rural Local Health Districts and the first tranche of money for new telehealth sites, in a budget notable for its emphasis on infrastructure investment.

This includes a promise of $5 billion over four years in capital works on hospital and healthcare facilities, including $1.4 billion in the 2015-16 financial year, and a promise that the government can honour all of its pre-election commitments, including an extra $60 million over four years for its extensive eHealth program.

While there is no new spending on eHealth beyond $5 million to further increase eHealth network capacity in rural LHDs, $1 million this year towards $4 million over four years to roll out an extra 100 telehealth sites and and a $10 million grant to help redevelop Royal Far West's child health and learning centre at Manly, which provides telehealth services to rural families, the government has provided detail on the amounts being spent in the 2015-16 financial year on its long-term eHealth projects.

This year, it will spend $33.8m of the $170m it allocated over 10 years in the 2011 budget to the roll-out of the electronic medications management (eMM) system. NSW Health announced this year that it had chosen Cerner as the main provider of eMM technology in the state, with those LHDs that do not use the Cerner EMR expected to choose a different vendor.

Just over $17m will be spent this year out of the estimated total cost of over $100m on the new Community Health and Outpatients Information System, and close to $15m will be spend this year of the overall $43m planned for the roll-out of the MetaVision clinical information system to all ICUs.

Just under half of the $22m total cost of the Incident Information Management System (IIMS) has been allocated to this year, and there is also a promise of $4m in user interface enhancements for the Cerner EMR.

Of the $5 billion in capital works, the big ticket items are for stage 2 of the Blacktown and Mt Druitt hospitals redevelopment, stage 3B of the Lismore Hospital redevelopment, the government's multipurpose services (MPS) strategy, and stage 1B of the Westmead hospital redevelopment.

There are also redevelopment works at Armidale, Bowral, Macksville and Manning hospitals, ongoing major works Gosford, Byron Central, Sutherland, St George, Campbelltown, Hornsby Ku-ring-gai and Tamworth hospitals, the Wagga Wagga Rural Referral Hospital and and the new South East Regional Hospital at Bega.

However, the Sydney Morning Herald is reporting that the government will delay its plans to upgrade Nepean Hospital.

Massive infrastructure projects are the centrepiece of the overall budget, many to be funded by the government's plan to privatise part of the electricity network, but the government has sounded a warning over future shortfalls in two of its biggest portfolios: health and education.

It sounds a warning that the unilateral reduction in funding for health and education announced by the federal government last year, especially its decision to withdraw guaranteed growth funding, will reduce health payments to NSW by $1.5 billion over the two years to 2018-19. “The updated estimate is a funding loss of around $26 billion in the 10 years to 2024-25,” it says.

Posted in Australian eHealth

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