Sunshine Coast Health District CEO Kevin Hegarty
Sunshine Coast Health District CEO Kevin Hegarty Kari Bourne

Qld Govt hunts down health staff

STAFF morale at Gympie Hospital is at an all-time low thanks to the ongoing pay "mess" that has left hundreds of Gympie health workers and support staff either out of pocket or being chased by Queensland Health for being overpaid.

Queensland Health confirmed yesterday that 199 Gympie Hospital staff and 1479 Nambour hospital staff were among the Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service workers who still owed Queensland Health $5.9 million in overpaid wages.

"In June, 2986 staff members in SCHHS were sent letters about outstanding overpayment amounts," acting chief executive Kevin Hegarty said.

Almost 200 of those letters came to Gympie.

Adding insult to injury, the Newman government has pushed through amendments to the State Industrial Relations Act to allow Queensland Health to take money from the payroll of any employee it believes has been overpaid.

The Queensland Nurses Union yesterday labelled the move "heavy-handed, arrogant and discriminatory".

QNU acting secretary Des Elder said if the legislation was misused, the State Government could expect a strong reaction from nurses and midwives.

"This government might have used its big majority to ram this through, but that big majority does not intimidate the QNU," he said.

Gympie QNU representative Gai Mailer said morale at the hospital was "very low" and that some people's pays had been bungled every single fortnight since the debacle first became public about two years ago.

"Everyone is just over it," Ms Mailer said.

Nurses, whose pays fluctuate each week because of shift work, are forced to double check their pay slips against their rosters every time they are paid.

Even that routine is almost impossible as their pay slips are complicated and many find them impossible to understand.

"It's no better than it was two years ago," one nurse said yesterday.

"It's a bigger mess than it's ever been."

There is a sense of "powerlessness" and disbelief that the debacle has not yet been resolved.

While some health workers have been overpaid as little as $200, which Queensland Health says it will waive, others owe the department $3000, $14,000 or, in one case, $60,000.

"Once upon a time you just accepted that your pay was right," another nurse said.

"Now, you are crazy if you don't scrutinise every single pay slip."

Gympie Times


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