Purchasing Hospital Supplies: Follow-up of 2002 Performance Audit


Periodically we review the extent to which agencies have changed their practices as a result of our audits. This gives Parliament and the public an update on the extent of progress made.

In this follow-up audit, we examine changes following our September 2002 report, to assess whether NSW Health has improved its buying of hospital supplies using electronic systems.

NSW Health spends over $1.3 billion on hospital supplies. It is the largest expenditure area after employee costs. Reform of this area has the potential to make significant savings that could be redirected to frontline services.

As part of our series of audits in the area of e-government, our previous audit looked closely at the extent to which technology was being used to deliver potentially major savings in purchasing hospital supplies. This is a key area of so-called “process re-engineering” in the “e” field, and NSW Health provided an ideal case study.

Whilst implementing large-scale e-procurement has many technical aspects, it is not chiefly a technical issue. The key requirements for success reside in effective change management, in particular being clear as to who has the authority to make change decisions and be held accountable.

This audit looks at NSW Health’s successes to date, and its frustrations and challenges in making further progress in this field. Many of the issues raised in this report may provide lessons for any agency that is seeking to drive a significant change program.


Parliamentary reference - Report number #145 - released 23 November 2005