The bungling bullies of Qld. Health once again
This whole affair is basically incomprehensible from a rational perspective. Why have they not simply gone back to their old payroll system when the new one has failed so ignominiously? Maybe the old one was not perfect but it was miles better than the present unending debacle. Only bureaucratic stubbornness can explain the present situation.
And stubborn and arrogant bureaucrats they certainly are at Qld. Health. I hear lots about the Qld. Health bureaucracy that's not in the papers -- and it is all appalling tales of waste, stupidity and arrogance. It wouldn't last 5 minutes as a business.
A hospital system that cannot even pay its staff correctly would be the stuff of comedy if it were not so serious. But that's what you get when you have a bureaucracy that has been metastasizing since 1944 -- when Ned Hanlon introduced "free" hospitals to Qld.
A PROMINENT Brisbane doctor is under investigation for fraud after accepting a hardship payment during the Queensland Health payroll disaster. The investigation into the highly respected doctor has angered the medical fraternity, which says he was denied natural justice after QH referred him to police before discussing the allegations with him first.
The department has since given the doctor a "qualified apology" for the distress caused but last night confirmed the investigation was ongoing.
The allegations risk further inflaming a debacle which worsened yesterday when the Bligh Government confirmed that it would spend $209 million to fix the botched system. Spending cuts or borrowings will be needed to raise the funds, which are more than three times the cost of the initial system. The Government yesterday admitted the problems, which it initially advised would take weeks to fix, would not be rectified before the next state election.
Health Minister Paul Lucas said $107 million would go towards extra payroll staff and the rest on paying for software, contractors, advisers and information technology experts.
He said the money would not come out of Queensland Health's operational budget but refused to say whether it would come from cuts or borrowings. But a confidential draft memo leaked to the Opposition details cuts already being considered by one health district.
QH metro south district chief David Theile outlined 14 areas where services could be cut, including closing palliative care beds, reducing overtime, delaying hospital repairs and leaving positions vacant. "Payroll impacts are continuing to distract our expenditure and these effects are not factored into our starting deficit," he said. "In this environment the services we currently perform need to be capped."
Mr Lucas insisted Dr Theile was referring to payroll in only an "oblique" fashion and the system's costs would be absorbed by the corporate, rather than the operational, section of the health budget.
Queensland Health last night confirmed a Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital doctor was being investigated despite the department's Director-General Mick Reid last week giving him a "qualified apology for any unnecessary distress" the police probe had caused. The first the doctor was aware of the fraud allegations was when he was contacted by Fortitude Valley police.
Australian Medical Association Queensland president Gino Pecoraro said Queensland Health had failed to give the senior doctor natural justice by referring him to police for investigation without discussing the issue with him first. "If this well trusted doctor was afforded an opportunity to talk about the issue and to explain it, then it would never have got this far," Dr Pecoraro said.
The AMA and the doctor had the impression the matter had been resolved after a conversation with Mr Reid last week. "This is just another example of how the communication process between Queensland Health and doctors has failed," Dr Pecoraro said.
But QH deputy director-general Michael Walsh said the department had a legal obligation to investigate suspected official misconduct. "The matter has not been finalised and is still under investigation," Mr Walsh said.
RBWH medical staff association chairwoman Dana Wainwright would not comment on details of the case yesterday but said it had caused "significant grief". "It's an appalling thing for an employer to do," she said. Dr Wainwright said doctors were still having trouble understanding their payslips, eight months after the introduction of the payroll system.
Thousands of doctors, nurses and other health workers have been left with incorrect pays since the new system was brought on-line in March.