Emerald nurses quitting as pay bungle continues
PREMIER Anna Bligh and Health Minister Paul Lucas have admitted failing Queensland Health employees with the payroll fiasco, but it could be too late for some Emerald Hospital nursing staff.
Central Queensland News understands a small number of demoralised nurses have already left, and others are operating on a paperwork ‘care factor zero’ until their pays are rectified.
Tabled in parliament on Tuesday, Auditor-General Glenn Poole’s report into the payroll system which cost $64.5 million was scathing.
He found fatal system flaws were overlooked as a project team gave the green light for the defective system’s rollout with no contingency plans in place for failures.
Two senior health executive heads rolled this week in Brisbane over the fiasco, but that’s cold comfort to Emerald nurses, who, like their counterparts statewide; have suffered through being overpaid, underpaid or not paid at all for five long months.
“Some nurses have left because their husbands have left, and some have left because of the pressure… they just can’t stand it,” a hospital staffer who requested anonymity told Central Queensland News.
“You can feel the tension here, and to be honest, some of the nurses just come to the hospital to look after patients and it’s care factor zero for any paperwork.
“At the end of the day, we’re expected to suck it in and keep going. If you’re worried about pay, mortgage repayments, just go to work and put on a happy face.
“People are afraid of losing their jobs if they speak up, but mentally it’s all been very draining.”
The staffer said the situation was compounded by emergency payments doled out by Queensland Health during the worst of the payroll crisis now being deducted without warning from subsequent pay cycles as ‘loans’.
This was after they had been assured by the nurses union and Queensland Health they would not seek to recover interim payments or overpayments until the system was stabilised.
“A lot of nurses started getting the loans appearing on their pay slips,” said the staffer.
“One had $900 deducted from hers just like that and it was her daughter’s birthday the same week.”
‘Bothered of Emerald’ posted a response to a southern news site’s coverage of the Premier and Deputy’s payroll apology where they admitted the government’s performance had been ‘manifestly inadequate’.
“Get an accountant and HR person who understands each award and create a flying squad to go to every hospital in Queensland and sit down each and every employee within health,” ‘bothered’ recommended.“You will not know the full extent of this debacle until people provide rosters and hours worked directly and not work through an intermediary.”
A new localised pay system will come into effect by the end of September, with workers’ pays expected to be right well before Christmas.
“... some of the nurses just come to the hospital to look after patients and it’s care factor zero for any paperwork.”