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Friday, December 12, 2008

I Have a Bad Feeling About This!

I have been thinking about the Australian Health Ministers’ Conference Joint Communiqué of the 5th December 2008.

The communiqué is found here:

http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/mr-yr08-dept-dept051208.htm

The relevant part is the following:

“E-health

All Ministers endorsed the National E-Health Strategy developed by Deloitte in consultation with key stakeholders, as a guide to the further development of E-Health in Australia.

The Strategy provides a practical framework and set of priorities that will help to support health reform.

The Strategy reinforces the existing collaboration of Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments on the core foundations of a national E-Health system, and identifies priority areas where this can be progressively extended to support health reform in Australia.

It also provides sufficient flexibility for individual States and Territories, and the public and private health sectors, to determine how they go about E-Health implementation within a common framework and set of priorities to maximise benefits and efficiencies.”

Note that there is no mention of any funding for implementation of the agreed Strategy.

As a little background I have been told the version of the Strategy considered by Ministers was dated 7 October, 2008. This provides a decent window for all aspects of the plan, including funding of the recommendations, to have been properly considered I believe.

In the meantime we have seen announcements for spending of gazillions of dollars.

Examples include:

1. The almost $15 Billion of new money from the Council of Australian Government’s Meeting of 29 November, 2008 over the next 4 years. (including the Commonwealth’s $108M for NEHTA over the next 3 years – to be added to equally by the States – making the total $216M over 3 years).

See:

http://www.pm.gov.au/media/index.cfm?type=1

Entries for November 30.

2. The announcement today of $4.7B for road and rail infrastructure and the various small business tax breaks.

See:

http://www.pm.gov.au/media/Release/2008/media_release_0687.cfm

3. The 14 October Announcement of the: Rudd Government's $10.4 billion Economic Security Strategy which contained five key measures:

  • $4.8 billion for an immediate down payment on long term pension reform.
  • $3.9 billion in support payments for low and middle income families.
  • $1.5 billion investment to help first home buyers purchase a home.
  • $187 million to create 56,000 new training places in 2008-09.
  • Accelerate the implementation of the Government's three nation building funds and bring forward, the commencement of investment in nation building projects to 2009.

See:

http://www.pm.gov.au/media/Release/2008/media_release_0550.cfm

4. The $6.4 billion green car plan announced on the 10th November, 2008.

See:

http://www.pm.gov.au/media/Release/2008/media_release_0592.cfm

Now I understand some of this was probably in the works for a month or so before it was announced but in each case the funding was announced at decision time.

It is now a week since the AHMC meeting and acceptance of the Deloittes work. But we have no funding announcement, I hear of all sorts of discussions happening in NEHTA and DoHA, and we have yet to see the Strategy document publicly.

As all readers know I am often wrong but I wonder if what is going on is that NEHTA’s plans are being re-jigged and that at the end of the day to funding for both NEHTA and the implementation of the E-Health Strategy will have to come from the $216M over three years.

I hope I am wrong as that will simply not be enough to do what is needed!

I look forward to a clarifying release some time real soon.

David.

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