Close-up senior female hands taking Australian banknotes from purse
Close-up senior female hands taking Australian banknotes from purse

Qld Health fiasco and the $21m taxpayers won’t get back

QUEENSLAND Health has written off or waived $21.3 million in debt owed by staff - and is still owed over $46 million.

The Courier-Mail can reveal the size of the debt write-off by Queensland Health since 2010 - the year in which the state's payroll crisis unfolded.

Currently, $39.1 million is owed by 28,086 current and 3454 former Queensland Health staff, and a further $7.3 million is being recovered under repayment agreements.

Queensland Health has waived more than $21 million in debt since 2010 and is still owed tens of millions more.
Queensland Health has waived more than $21 million in debt since 2010 and is still owed tens of millions more.

The numbers follow a troubling Auditor-General's audit that found the collective deficits of the state's hospital and health services were $34.4 million in 2018-19 and the long-term financial viability of the services was under threat.

Opposition health spokeswoman Ros Bates said Labor's health payroll debacle continued on almost a decade after it began and was still costing taxpayers millions.

"Thousands of nurses are still being pursued and harassed by the Palaszczuk Labor Government, many of them after leaving the job," Ms Bates said.

"Unfortunately, this is another example of Labor's wasteful spending and their abysmal IT record."

But a spokesman said not all write-offs or overpayments were related to payroll.

"The majority of overpayments are the result of the late submission of forms where retrospective adjustments were made for rostered shifts that were paid but not worked due to unplanned leave or other circumstances," he said.

Queensland Health says the majority of overpayments related to changes in rostered shifts that were paid but not worked.
Queensland Health says the majority of overpayments related to changes in rostered shifts that were paid but not worked.

"Only a small percentage are associated with the payroll issues experienced in 2010."

The spokesman said Queensland Health's payroll was complex, with more than 807,000 shifts rostered and worked each fortnight.

He said the majority of overpayments were recovered within three months of being identified.

"Employees and former employees are notified of overpayments and provided options to repay, regardless of the time frame or the amount of the overpayment," he said.

"Queensland Health has a legal obligation to recover overpayments where practical."

However overpayments and loans had been waived or written off for a variety of reasons, including death, terminal illness, bankruptcy, and exceptional circumstances or because the cost of recovery is too high, he said.