The South Australian State Government has cut back on new e-health projects in its budget delivered last week, slashing new initiatives worth $42 million over four years.
Despite spending over $4 billion in total on health, the state decided to cut back on new IT for the sector. The budget papers noted a reduction in an "ICT infrastructure program", which would save $9.2 million in the 2009/2010 years and $10.9 million, $11.3 million and $10.6 million in the three years after that.
A spokesperson for the state's health department could not give any information on the cancelled project, although they confirmed the money had been pulled out. The state's budget ran into deficit, and the government said it had needed to make some hard calls to bring it back into surplus in the future.
"When I first began to frame this budget we faced the prospect of an operating deficit well in excess of $500 million and significant deficits in each of the following years. Mr Speaker, this would not be sustainable, and as a result the government has made some tough decisions which I will detail later in order to place this state on a path to surplus," SA Treasurer Kevin Foley said in his budget speech.
Despite the cuts, existing health IT programs still received funding. The state still intended to spend around $9 million this year on developing new information management systems to support health across the state as well as around $8 million on replacing the existing Nursing administration system ExcelCare.
Other areas of the state's budget received new technology funds. The government is spending over $100 million over four years on a Radio network for its emergency services. The network will service 30,000 users and cover over 220,000 square kilometres of the state, reaching 96 per cent of the population.
Technology for saving water also received a boost, with $110 million set to improve irrigation systems, including using "smarter" technology.