Palaszczuk Govt’s public con job as pay system imploded

 

Queensland Health was warned twice it was not ready to launch a trouble-plagued hospital payment system that resulted in $540 million in late payments, $6.5 million in overpayments and a $33.5 million blowout for taxpayers.

Shocking new details around the botched S/4HANA project has been laid bare in a scathing report that shows the Palaszczuk Government shelled out $3.1 million frantically trying to fix problems while publicly maintaining things weren't that bad.

Deputy Premier and Health Minister Steven Miles. Picture: Tertius Pickard
Deputy Premier and Health Minister Steven Miles. Picture: Tertius Pickard

Auditor-General Brendan Worrall's investigation, sparked by The Courier-Mail's coverage, found the project management team was warned twice just a month before its August 1 launch - including by Mr Worrall himself - that the program wasn't ready

Both he and an independent review found a raft of unresolved issues needed urgent fixing before its launch but weren't.

QH executives reported they were ready when they weren't and had not trained staff in the new system. That included only 41 per cent of "superusers" attending training in the month before the disastrous rollout.

But the audit also uncovered previously unknown fraud risks that allowed users to alter payment details and then delete them - meaning people could funnel QH funds into their own bank accounts and then cover their tracks.

The audit found the new program constantly froze, was often delayed and users were unable to access the system at all on eight occasions. QH had to double its memory and processing capacity to fix issues.

The system couldn't read invoices properly, rejecting 481,800 of them in the first year, scanners in warehouses didn't work properly and untrained staff were making problems worse.

In one example given, a hospital ordered one medical glove, instead of the 100 it needed.

The plethora of problems resulted in $540 million paid late to suppliers in the first three months, with late payments persisting into 2020.

At least $3.1 million was spent managing issues in the four months after the go-live, although the real cost in lost staff time and lost discounts due to late payments is unknown.

Hospital and Health Services spent $3.1 million in four months trying to fix payment and ordering problems. Picture David Clark
Hospital and Health Services spent $3.1 million in four months trying to fix payment and ordering problems. Picture David Clark

QH only realised a year after launch that it had accidentally paid 1,836 bills twice, leaving them to chase $6.5 million they've wrongly paid out.

And the special help desk Health Minister Steven Miles ordered to help businesses get paid and hospital teams resolve issues were complained about for closing off issues without solving them.

The audit also found hospital and health services couldn't manage their budgets properly because they didn't know how many unpaid bills they had.

Opposition health spokeswoman Ros Bates, who asked for the Auditor-General's report, said Labor clearly had learned nothing from the $1.25 billion health payroll debacle a decade ago.

"This is yet another shocking example of Labor's wasteful spending," she said.

Originally published as Palaszczuk Govt's public con job as pay system imploded


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