Another patient records cost blowout

Mismanagement by the former Labor Government has led to another health budget blowout, with Cabinet being forced to approve $10.9 million to extend the contract for the off-site storage of patient records.


Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said the former Labor government entered into a contract with Iron Mountain to store the records in 2015.

“The former government was forced to expand the scope of the contract following delays in their rollout of the Enterprise Patient Administration System (EPAS),” Minister Wade said.

“The design of the new Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH) meant the floors of the $2.4 billion hospital could not withstand the weight of the paper.”

The cost blowout in Iron Mountain’s contract is also due to unforeseen expenditure to support a 24/7 emergency records delivery service within one hour from request at the RAH, and a freeze on the destruction of records relating to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Minister Wade said he expanded scope of the contract was supposed to be a temporary arrangement but now the Government will have to fork out more money for paper records to be stored offsite.

“This is further financial pain inflicted on South Australian taxpayers as a result of the former Labor Government’s incompetence,” he said.

The cost blowout follows last week’s preliminary findings from the independent expert panel reviewing the failed EPAS. The panel ruled out the continued rollout of EPAS and is now looking at future options, including scrapping the system or completely overhauling it.

“This will likely contribute to further delays to electronic records being rolled out through the hospital network,” Minister Wade said.

“EPAS was already hundreds of millions of dollars over budget by the time it was paused. The cost has blown out to $471 million over 10 years - $321 million of that has already been spent.”

The new contract contains an extension option to extend the contract to June 2021, bringing the total cost over six years to $25.8 million.

The contractual expenditure is to be accommodated within SA Health’s existing budget allocation.

On a daily basis, approximately 2000 patient files are delivered to the hospital and at any given time there are approximately 7000 patient files in circulation or stored on-site.

The remainder – more than two million records – are stored offsite at facilities at Cavan, Beverley, Hindmarsh and Woodville.

Central Adelaide Local Health Network meets regularly with Iron Mountain to identify and implement cost savings and a Governance Framework is being developed to provide oversight and strategic solutions to recurring issues.

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