The LNP  has written to Auditor-General Brendan Worrall requesting a performance audit of the Queensland Health decision to scrap an IT project.
The LNP has written to Auditor-General Brendan Worrall requesting a performance audit of the Queensland Health decision to scrap an IT project.

Health IT failure slammed as ‘financial recklessness’

THE State Opposition has slammed Queensland Health's scrapping of a multimillion-dollar project to replace its ageing laboratory information system as an "example of financial recklessness".

Opposition health spokeswoman Ros Bates has written to Auditor-General Brendan Worrall requesting a performance audit of the decision, probing "why it was scrapped, whether it could have been renegotiated and delayed, and a justification of the waste of tens of millions of taxpayers' dollars".

Dr John Wakefield, the new QLD Health DG. Pic Peter Wallis
Dr John Wakefield, the new QLD Health DG. Pic Peter Wallis

Queensland Health quietly announced the $68.6 million project would be "discontinued" in the middle of an April 8 media release about the coronavirus pandemic, citing the need to "free up resources".

The 10-year project with US software company Sunquest Information Systems, launched in 2018, was to replace Queensland Health's AUSLAB laboratory information system.

The department said in a statement this week the finalised contract close-out was being settled.

"But while more than half of the project's $64 million budget has been expended, Queensland Health will retain much of the work developed so far, and a portion of the overall budget will be saved and available to reinvest," the department said.

The Queensland Health statement said the future of Pathology Queensland's laboratory information system was under review when COVID-19 emerged.

It said Director-General John Wakefield, who took over the role in September last year, had made the decision to discontinue the laboratory information system project to allow Queensland Health to focus on the COVID-19 pandemic response.

"The outbreak has shown us that pathology testing could remain a top priority for up to two years," the department said. "Our people need to be focused on testing and ensuring our existing systems are as robust as possible.

"Good governance requires continual reappraisal of our projects and a focus on key activity."

But The Sunday Mail understands Pathology Queensland staff were pulled from the Sunquest project late last year before the coronavirus pandemic.

Queensland Health said support for AUSLAB had been extended to 2029.

Ms Bates said the Queensland Government needed to disclose the full cost of the decision to abandon the project, once the contract settlement had been reached.

"Using the cover of coronavirus to quietly shelve a multimillion-dollar IT project is an appalling waste of taxpayers' money and another Labor IT disaster," she said.

"It's staggering that Queensland Health can afford to waste tens of millions of dollars during a global health pandemic."

Originally published as Qld Health's IT failure slammed as 'financial recklessness'



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