NSW Health Department (1982-2009) Department of Health (2009- )

State Records Authority of New South Wales
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On 17 December 1982 the Health Commission was abolished, and replaced by the Department of Health (1) established by the Health Administration Act (Act No.135, 1982). (2) The Act specified that the Department was established to formulate policies "for the purpose of promoting, protecting, developing, maintaining and improving the health and well-being of the people of New South Wales to the maximum extent possible having regard to the needs of financial and other resources available to the State". (3) The major functional branches included the Institute of Public Health Bio-Sciences (control of infectious diseases, health and food inspection, pharmaceutical services and radiation control); Radiation Health Services, Scientific Services (Analytical Laboratories, Forensic Medicine and clinical pathology); Central Cancer Registry; Rural Aerial Health Service and Ambulance Services. (4) A range of services were provided through eleven regional offices situated throughout the state. (5)

Area Health Services commenced in 1986 to promote, protect and maintain public health and to deliver health services to residents in their area; to achieve and maintain adequate standards of health care; to ensure the efficient use of health resources; to co-ordinate planning, provision and evaluation of services; to ensure health protection, health promotion, health education. (6)

A review of the administration of the Department by the Office of Public Management in 1989 endorsed the devolution of responsibilities to the Area Health Services and Regions and restructured the central office. New functions incorporated into the structure included Epidemiology and Health Services Evaluation, Corporate Planning, Commercial Development, Government Relations, and Strategic Planning. Health Plans and budgets were directly linked to executive management. (7) The central office was divided into four divisions - Corporate Affairs, Finance and Administration, Public Health and Service Development and Planning. Responsible for each division was an Executive Director. (8) There were 10 area health services which were responsible for public hospitals and community health services in their geographical boundaries. (9)

The Ambulance Services Act, 1990 (Act No.16, 1990) established the Ambulance Service of New South Wales as a statutory body subject to the control and Direction of the Minister. (10)

On 1 July 1993 a Rural Health Directorate was established to supervise the 23 District Health Services which replaced the former six Country Health Regions, (11) including 137 public hospital administrations. (12)

Early in 1994 the Department was restructured again into seven divisions each under a General Manager. The divisions were - Public Health; Policy and Planning; Rural Health and Direct Services; Information and Business Services; Finance and Asset Management; Organisation Development and Public Affairs and Marketing. (13)

In March 1996 eight Rural Health Services were formed to replace the former 23 District Health Services. The Department explained that this change "allowed for better population health planning and increased the status of rural health administration to that of metropolitan NSW". (14)

In October 1995 the Director-General Commissioned a further review of the Department's structure. The number of Divisions was decreased from seven to six. The Public Affairs and Marketing Division was disbanded, a Performance Management Division was created and some functions and resources were transferred from the Policy and Planning Division. The new divisions were - Corporate Services, Finance and Commercial Services, Information and Asset Services, Policy Development, Performance Management and Public Health. (15)

The department structure was "streamlined" effective from 1 July 1997. Three divisions were maintained - Operations, Policy and Public Health. Each was headed by a Deputy Director-General. The Centre for Mental Health was transferred from the Public Health Division to the Policy Division. The Operations Division amalgamated the former Corporate Services, Performance Management, Finance and Commercial Services and Information and Asset Management divisions. (16)

(1) NSW Government Gazette, 17 December 1982. p.5869.
(2) Health Administration Act, 1982 s. 6(1).
(3) Ibid. s.5(1).
(4) Government Reference Directory, 1985-1986. pp.113-115.
(5) Ibid., p. 115.
(6) Department of Health, Annual report for the year ended 30 June, 1994, p.10.
(7) New South Wales Health Department, Annual report for the year ended 30 June, 1990, pp.9-10.
(8) Ibid., p.15.
(9) Ibid., p.16.
(10) Ambulance Services Act, 1990 (Act No.16, 1990) s.4.
(11) NSW Health Department, Annual Report for the year ended 30 June, 1993, p.6.
(12) NSW Health Department, Annual Report for the year ended 30 June, 1994, p.10.
(13) Ibid., p.5.
(14) NSW Health Department, Annual Report for the year ended 30 June, 1996, p.8.
(15) NSW Health Department, Annual Report for the year ended 30 June, 1996, p.10.
(16) NSW Health, Annual Report for the year ended 30 June, 1997, p.8.

(1) NSW Government Directory, 1996.
(2) NSW Health Department Annual Report, 1995.

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