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Qld won't chase nurses for payroll surplus

Nurses and healthcare workers who were overpaid as a result of the bungled Queensland Health payroll overhaul will not be chased to give back the extra cash, promised Queensland Premier Anna Bligh, until underpaid workers are duly compensated.
Written by Luke Hopewell, Contributor on

Nurses and healthcare workers who were overpaid as a result of the bungled Queensland Health payroll overhaul will not be chased to give back the extra cash, promised Queensland Premier Anna Bligh, until underpaid workers are duly compensated.

"In my view the approach adopted by Queensland Health in seeking to recover overpayments from staff while it was clear that many employees were still owed entitlements was unacceptable.

"While I acknowledge the approach was adopted with a view to providing certainty to staff as the end of financial year approached, it was clearly not good enough," the premier said in a statement.

The Queensland government's moratorium on recovering overpaid funds was announced on Friday as one plank of a strategy to restore confidence in the Health payroll system.

"We will also appoint an external workplace ombudsman, provide more support for line managers, better recognition for payroll staff, and trial new pay cycle arrangements at a small number of sites," the Bligh said.

The plan has been forwarded to unions for their approval, according to the premier's office.

Bligh announced a renewed focus on reimbursing underpaid staff who are yet to receive compensation.

"Agreement has been reached on new arrangements to ensure that in future adjustments will be made regularly so that staff receive their entitlements in a timely way and do not accrue large overpayments," the premier said on Friday.

An Information Systems Governance and Security report published in June found that the Queensland Health payroll drama had seen $1.3 million in staff overpayments of $200 or less written off of the government's balance sheet, while a whopping $43 million were still outstanding. The report also found that $9.2 million was still outstanding in emergency payments.

Queensland Health's bungled payroll system saw some nurses overpaid while some weren't paid at all when it was deployed in March last year. The system even managed to automatically roster-on staff who had been deceased for some time.

The state government imported two specialists from Canada to fix the bungled system at a cost to taxpayers of $350,000.

A report handed down to parliament by the state's auditor-general found that the project had skipped key testing processes and lacked correct governance that forced the system off the rails.

Bligh subsequently announced that Queensland would drop its unified shared services approach, allowing Queensland Health to manage its own corporate services.

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