Health information unit faces restructuring

Several top-level managers in the ministry have recently resigned

The Ministry of Health is restructuring its information directorate, according to a discussion document obtained by Computerworld.

“This is about the most difficult time,” says the deputy director general of the recently formed information directorate, Alan Hesketh, in the document, which is dated April 15 and has been distributed for further internal discussion.

Two periods of consultation over the changes are scheduled, with implementation planned through to the end of June.

Hesketh describes the changes as a work in progress.

Coincidentally or otherwise, several top-level managers in the ministry have recently resigned.

Computerworld has been told that those who are going are the chief financial officer, Paul Helm; Brett Annan, the programme director of the National Systems Development Programme (NSDP); IT infrastructure specialist Nick Mair; and Greg Dodds, who was development manager for ProClaim, the ministry’s payment engine which handles $5.6 billion annually in authorised subsidies.

The ministry has confirmed Helm’s departure but hadn’t responded at time of going to press about whether there was a connection between the proposed new structure and the departure of the others.

The information directorate’s role includes consolidating the capacity to manage the sector’s information systems, developing and maintaining key information databases, managing all IT infrastructure for the ministry, and implementing the National System Development Programme, which has a capital budget of $100 million.

Health sources told Computerworld earlier this year that NSDP hadn’t delivered in its first two years and was in danger of becoming another INCIS. Hesketh responded that NSDP did not share characteristics with INCIS because it wasn’t a single system and that the scope of each project was carefully controlled.

The organisational document notes that some senior advisory positions have not been included. It identifies 90 management and team leader roles, along with 370 “approximate” positions within teams. It appears that the IT function of HealthPac has been absorbed into the directorate.

Currently, the ministry employs 230 IT people, and the information directorate has just over 500 staff.

Last week, the m-net website reported that vendors who responded to a Ministry of Health request for information for a new payments system nearly a year ago will have to wait until the second half of 2008 for a decision. A decision on the request cannot be made until decisions on other tenders are decided, including those for a telehousing solution (Computerworld, April 14), secure portal and identity system.

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