The National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) has been investigated by WorkCover over bullying within the organisation, while reporting an annual staff turnover rate of 30 per cent, a senate estimates hearing has heard.
The company is charged with managing and supporting the delivery of personally controlled e-health records (PCEHR) as part of the Federal Government's $466.7 million investment in e-health. Speaking at an estimates hearing last night, NEHTA CEO Peter Fleming confirmed that WorkCover had been brought into the NEHTA offices in Sydney to investigate a staff complaint over bullying.
"There was, just recently, a very brief investigation. I believe a WorkCover officer came and had a talk to our head of personnel, and I believe that issue was dealt with to their satisfaction," he told the committee.
Australian e-health IT blogger Dr David More had last month posted information that he had obtained from former employees of NEHTA who had claimed there was bullying within NEHTA and WorkCover had been brought in to investigate.
At the hearing Fleming also revealed that the company was investigating why annual staff turnover had reached high levels of between 28 and 30 per cent.
"It's actually reasonably high. In terms of consultant groups, it's actually on par with what we see in the industry, [but] in terms of what we would expect in the IT industry, it is probably significantly higher. So we have commissioned research to understand the drivers of that," he said.
Despite this, Fleming said that company morale was considered to be high.
"We've actually been doing some research in that area. The verbal update I have received is that morale is actually quite high in the context of what we are working on," he said.
"We are working long and hard and we have, I think, some of the most talented people in the country working on this program."
NEHTA has the task of ensuring PCEHRs are delivered by 1 July 2012, and Fleming said that the organisation was working hard to meet this deadline. Tiger teams of industry representatives would be used to develop standards for the e-health records faster than normally would occur, Fleming said, but confirmed that the organisation had used this method for a number of years and it would not bypass the normal Standards Australia process.
It is expected that NEHTA will launch the standards in November.