12/09/2012 - 10:03

Serco kicks off big hospital contract

12/09/2012 - 10:03

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Serco kicks off big hospital contract
PERFORMANCE: Joe Boyle says Serco’s international experience is needed for its 20-year $4.3 billion Fiona Stanley contract. Photo: Grant Currall

Next month private company Serco will begin installing communications and technology infrastructure in the $2 billion Fiona Stanley Hospital – marking a key milestone in its delivery of facilities and support services.

It’s one of the most significant parts of Serco’s 20-year contract with the state government and has required planning and collaboration to not only gain access to the building, which is still under construction, but to also ensure access at a time suitable for all parties involved.

That’s meant collaborating with and aligning the needs of Serco, builder Brookfield Multiplex and ICT infrastructure subcontractor BT.

Serco’s job under its $4.3 billion contract with the state government is to replicate that installation process and then run the related services for 28 separate contracts, as well as procuring the equipment and staff needed.

Serco’s Fiona Stanley transition director, Joe Boyle, says the mammoth task is the type of challenge Serco thrives on.

“When you have that range of requirements, getting someone that can piece it together is part of the challenge … you can’t just have some Johnny-come-lately show up and say ‘yeah I can do that’,” Mr Boyle told WA Business News.

The decision to award the 28-contract package to a private company has been heavily criticised – and especially one which has had delivery of other services questioned.

Both Serco’s running of Perth’s Acacia Prison and hospitals in the UK have received negative attention, while other concerns have arisen about Serco potentially taking work away from local companies.

But Mr Boyle maintains the company’s international experience is what is needed to get such a significant project off the ground, and it would not have won the contract if the government did not think it was capable.

“At the end of the day, if you want to achieve such a challenging integrated outcome there are people that can do it and not everyone can do it,” he said.

“If we weren’t successful in doing it we wouldn’t be winning international contracts.”

 Serco has begun awarding some contracts, such as the suppliers of MRI and CT scanners, and is working towards a December 2013 date when it can properly move into the hospital and begin trialling services.

Serco expects to have everything running smoothly three months later and ready to receive the first patients.

The company’s performance will then be assessed on a monthly basis against 530 key performance indicators around factors such as service availability.

If the company fails to deliver on any of those KPIs, it gets a deduction from what will effectively be its monthly wage.

“Every failure means dollars,” Mr Boyle said. “We could end up working for nothing if we do it really badly.”

But Mr Boyle said the determining factor driving Serco to do the job well was not money but the fact it’s contracted to running the hospital for at least 10 years.

“We don’t just deliver something and then run away … we’re not just the suppliers or designers of the equipment; we have to run it as well,” he said.

“It can make your life hell if you don’t do it properly, and there’s nothing worse than being tied into a long-term contract if you’re not doing it right and are working in a negative environment.”

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