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Hospitals forced to pull money from operating budgets to attempt to fix IT security

The CEO of one of the Victorian hospitals hit by yesterday’s cyber-attacks has admitted the Andrews Labor Government has not given them any extra money to deal with cyber security following dire warnings its IT systems are ‘highly vulnerable’.

Barwon Health CEO Frances Diver spoke with 3AW’s Neil Mitchell this morning and said that despite the Auditor General’s report warning of cyber-attacks, any additional money to fund upgrades to its IT security had to be pulled from its operational budget.

In May 2019, the Victorian Auditor General handed down a scathing report against the Andrews Labor Government into Security of Patients’ Hospital Data, warning the public health system is highly vulnerable to the kind of cyber-attacks which could steal or alter patient data.

When asked how much extra money was given to hospitals following the report to set up an adequate system, Ms Diver told Neil Mitchell hospitals had to find money within their existing budgets as no additional money was given to address the issue.

Barwon Health will this financial year experience a 6.3 per cent cut to acute admitted funding, down from $355.4 million to $333 million.

Since the 2018 election, Victorians have endured Labor’s funding cuts to dental and community health, funding shortfalls for hospital upgrades, zero infrastructure dollars for ten community hospitals, State Government funding uncertainty for flu shots for kids, cuts to women’s health, cuts to some palliative care services, cuts to health protection and cuts to cancer treatment technology.

What services are Victorian hospitals having to cut to pay for these Band-Aid upgrades to their hospital IT systems which are failing? Why hasn’t this Andrews Labor Government acted sooner on the warnings that patient data was at risk?

Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Health, Georgie Crozier:

“The Andrews Labor Government’s approach to cyber security and patient data is to give Victorian hospitals loose change and a Band-Aid despite the grim warnings that an attack was imminent.

“With no additional money given to these hospitals after May’s audit warning of security breaches, Daniel Andrews has forced these hospitals to make cuts to other services they normally offer so they can attempt to address security.

“This is a health system in crisis, patient care is suffering because of Daniel Andrews’ failure to manage hospital budgets, doctors threatening strikes, cuts to community health, hidden waitlists, and all of this on the back of cancelled surgeries because of contaminated surgical equipment.”

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