Saturday, July 23, 2011

Crazy plan to computerize medical records nationwide

This is an absolute lulu. Big new computer programs generally do not work and Queensland health can't even get its payroll software working after over a year of trying. And the Brits had a similar medical records plan -- on which they spent OVER 12 BILLION POUNDS before they gave up on it after many years of trying to get it to work

THE Opposition has called on the Gillard government to hit the pause button on the $467 million electronic health records project until a "thorough assessment" on e-health is conducted.

The call comes less than 12 months from the roll out of the opt-in, personally controlled e-health record (PCEHR) system.

In a vitriolic speech, Queensland Liberal Senator Sue Boyce ironed out what she described as "failures" in e-health implementation over the years. She gave participants at a health administration conference in Sydney a history lesson on public sector e-health initiatives since the late 1990s during the Howard era and vowed to share what "needs to happen next".

Senator Boyce was especially scathing of the progress and role played by the National E-Health Transaction Authority (NEHTA), the publicly funded body charged with implementing the PCEHR scheme.

NEHTA said it's work, while ambitious, was achievable with the backing of a "skilled and committed" team. NEHTA was formed in late 2004 by her boss -- then Health Minister and now opposition leader Tony Abbott. Labor wrestled power from John Howard in 2007. Senator Boyce did not say what NEHTA achieved while Mr Abbott was in charge.

In 2005, Mr Abbott said he hoped the e-health dream would become a reality under NEHTA in three years. "We believe upwards of 3000 people a year die prematurely because of inadequate information and record-keeping," Mr Abbott said then.

"We're never going to be able to entirely eliminate that, but we think we can avoid quite a few of these unnecessary deaths if we have an integrated records system. We also have very heavy expenses with the duplication of diagnostic tests. "That certainly can come down if we have readily available health records so that blood tests, X-rays and MRIs don't need to be repeated by every lot of treating doctors.

"Now we've got a high-level, well-funded body exclusively dedicated to ensuring that our dream becomes a reality, hopefully within the next three years,'' Mr Abbott said in February 2005.

At today's event Senator Boyce did not call for the organisation to be abolished despite being critical of NEHTA, its management and mission statement.

"It's almost 15 years since Australia acted on the recognised need for a national, consistent e-health system so whilst there has been a good deal of progress towards one, I believe we -- all of us: politicians, health professionals, taxpayers -- are totally justified in asking the question: 'Well, where the bloody hell is it?" Senator Boyce said in her speech.

After listing NEHTA's current mission statement, she said: "Be very, very frightened for somebody is about to put their hand in your pocket, move you to another planet or at the very least, snow you while boring you to death on the journey. "It would be good if its designers, managers, administrators and practitioners not only remember this but make it their mantra.

She said in theory, e-health could do "all the things attributed to it" but the reality was far different. "Unfortunately the record in practice is nowhere near as good or as glowing ... which is a major reason the Coalition believes it's time for a pause and for a thorough assessment of the real, the actual progress of the introduction of e-health in Australia."

Senator Boyce cited examples from Senate inquiries to drive home her point on NEHTA's alleged lack of transparency. "I can tell you that from a series of Senate estimates hearings over several years the ability of this organisation (NEHTA) to talk nonsense is monumental.

"In the recent round of budget estimates hearings, members of the Community Affairs Committee endeavoured to get representatives of NEHTA to spell out exactly what they had achieved in the creation of finished components necessary to implement a national e-health system. "We didn't get very far."

A NEHTA spokeswoman said the organisation's work program to support a connected health system for Australia was both ambitious and achievable. "It's been forecast that by 2020 the improvements we're working towards will save at least 5000 lives and $7.6 billion each year across Australia. "We're confident about delivering a world-leading personally controlled electronic health record system and we have a skilled and committed team working very hard to make sure this happens."

The government has called for feedback into the proposed PCEHR legislation by August 3.

Several lucrative contracts related to the project have been awarded, including the appointment of a McKinsey and Co-led consortium as national change and adoption partner. All eyes are now on who Canberra will select as its infrastructure partner for the project.


The law is an ass: Victim says wrong man being punished

THE plug has been pulled on outspoken radio star Derryn Hinch by a magistrate who yesterday imposed an extraordinary gag order.

Hinch, who had a liver transplant just two weeks ago, could have been jailed after he pleaded guilty to four charges of deliberately breaching suppression orders that prohibited the identification of sex offenders.

Magistrate Charlie Rozencwajg told a pale and breathless Hinch that he would have had no hesitation in jailing him but for his poor health.

Instead, he ordered that the 67-year-old broadcaster be confined to his home for five months, and placed strict conditions on what he can say and to whom he can say it.

Last night, a victim of a shocking paedophile attack called Hinch a hero for sacrificing his freedom to name and shame sex offenders.

Andrew Taylor, who was tortured, sexually abused and starved by one of the named offenders, said the law had punished the wrong man.

"Derryn has taken a stand and been punished for it. And I'm behind him 100 per cent," Mr Taylor said. "He is a hero to victims. He is a god to us. He will get up and fight for what he believes in. "What's wrong with a law that put's someone like Derryn Hinch away but lets sex offenders walk the streets? "Derryn was prepared to stand up for us. "A paedophile can get away with a slap on the wrist but the moment you name them for being what they are, you get charged, you get locked up."

Mr Taylor, who waived his right to anonymity, said it was a constant thought that his attacker could be living in the next street and he would not be told.

Mr Rozencwajg told Hinch he had five previous breaches of the law in various "name and shame" campaigns over the years. "It is clear that the offences were committed in a deliberate fashion, you being fully conscious that your actions were prohibited by law," Mr Rozencwajg said.


Council worker fired for telling the plain truth

A young council roads worker has been sacked after commenting on Facebook that the council had too many office staff and not enough workers.

Alec Armstrong, 21, posted the remarks on a Hepburn Shire residents' page last month and had his employment terminated five weeks later for what the council called "intimidating or offensive" behaviour.

In postings made after hours on June 2, Mr Armstrong said council had 140 staff, but only 30 who worked outdoors. "Shows you how top heavy they are," he posted.

He said outdoor employees never had enough money to do the job properly. "I work on the roads for the shire. There would be four office staff to one of us. Their (sic) slack, and we need less office staff who aren't slack and do the job a bit more. We never have enough money to do a job the way it should be done. That's why rates are going up. Keep blaming it on the useless staff above us."

And in a post later that night, Mr Armstrong wrote: "Most of the staff don't live in the shire. It's like they give a s...t about nothing but their pay packet."

When confronted by office managers about the postings, Mr Armstrong said he immediately removed them and apologised. In a letter to council chief executive officer Kaylene Conrick July 7, Mr Armstrong expressed his "deep regrets" over the incident. He admitted it was "inappropriate, disrespectful and lacked the professionalism" required by Hepburn Shire Council employees.

In the letter, Mr Armstrong pleaded to keep his job. "As a younger employee I would like the chance to learn from my mistake and in future be more mature and respectful about what is said," he wrote. "I understand that I have done the wrong thing and that I will have to deal with the consequences of my actions."

Mr Armstrong said yesterday he recognised that unauthorised media commentary was prohibited under the shire's employee code of conduct but at the time didn't understand that included social media, such as Facebook.

But in a letter to Mr Armstrong, a senior council officer called the comments "seriously wilful conduct" that "may have damaged the reputation of the council".

Mr Armstrong was one of two new employees featured in a council bulletin in 2008. Under the headline "Council commits to youth - trainee and apprentice appointed", the council said Mr Armstrong and another employee were two successful job candidates from more than 60 applications.

Hepburn Shire Acting CEO Evan King said the decision to sack Mr Armstrong was made following due process. In a written statement he said: "The employee breached the code of conduct, and based on an assessment of the seriousness of the breach, it was deemed the employment of the employee should be terminated."

Dave Beckley from the Australian Services Union said yesterday a case for unfair dismissal of Mr Armstrong was being prepared for Fair Work Australia.



Three reports below

New payroll joke on Queensland Health staff

THERE is no end in sight to the state's biggest joke - Queensland Health's payroll system will again rip off staff this week.

A damning email obtained by The Courier-Mail warns some staff to expect their pay packet to include less than what they are owed because of yet another technical glitch.

The email, written by a senior officer from the department's payroll division, says staff won't be "very happy campers" when they check their pays because of a technical "fix". The email, written by a senior payroll division officer, is another embarrassing blow for the Bligh Government, which claims the problems are under control.

Payroll staff have no way of knowing how many people will be affected, further multiplying the number of cases of incorrect wage payments which have to be resolved.

For the fourth day, Queensland Health boss Tony O'Connell refused to discuss the debacle. The office of the speechless acting director-general failed to even acknowledge The Courier-Mail's requests for an interview, while Health Minister Geoff Wilson remains on holidays. His temporary replacement, Neil Roberts, was told of the problems yesterday afternoon and said Queensland Health were "working to fix it".

However, the email exposes a souring relationship between Queensland Health and shared service provider CorpTech.

"There are going to be some very unhappy campers next week when the payslips come out and there is nothing we can do," the email sent this week from payroll client service officer Kylie Shelley warned. "Our wonderful CorpTech has done another 'system fix' and that has created all these other problems!!!!"

Ms Shelley said yesterday she could not comment and referred calls to her manager, who also declined to comment.

In a written statement, human resource services deputy director-general John Cairns said "an average" of 100 people were affected each pay cycle but only those who worked on Sundays. They could be underpaid between $50 and $210 each fortnight.

"Any claim for underpayment is corrected in the next pay run, or individuals are always invited to seek cash payments if they prefer," Mr Cairns said.

But one health worker, writing on a "fightback" page set up on social networking site Facebook, said the department seemed "all too keen" to demand back overpaid wages but was slow to rectify underpayments.


Silence drags on over Queensland Health pay debacle

THE sounds of silence continues from Queensland Health bosses. But workers are gearing up for a fresh revolt over the payroll debacle, with two in three staffers preparing to dispute their overpayment bills.

Many who believe their alleged overpayments are inaccurate fear they will never be able to prove it because the payslips are so complex.

Even QH acting director-general Tony O'Connell who again dodged interview requests yesterday has previously admitted the payslips are illegible and ordered changes in April to make them easier to understand. On Tuesday, Dr O'Connell's office told The Courier-Mail he had "no time to talk" over revelations two people sacked during the payroll debacle returned as consultants.

About 38,000 health workers have been sent letters asking them to repay a collective $62 million in overpaid wages, many of which date back to March last year, well before the payslips were modified.

About 13,980 health workers have so far responded to bills sent last month, but two-thirds had concerns and asked for a case manager. Another 24,000 staffers have not yet responded, while only 4300 agreed with the calculations and negotiated repayment plans.

One Redcliffe Hospital nurse, who did not wish to be named, said she received a $1600 bill for overpayments made when the faulty payroll system last year mistakenly switched her employment status from permanent part-time to casual for eight weeks. "My mum actually died at that time and I couldn't take any paid time off because I was considered to be casual," she said.

"I really want to know why suddenly I have to pay it all back because for all intents and purposes I was a casual employee at the time I don't think my annual leave has been credited back and I'm not even sure if my super has been paid properly." The nurse's repayments were taken from a pay packet in a lump sum last year and she said she "just went ballistic" to receive another bill for a similar amount last month.

Just weeks later, amid mounting complaints, Premier Anna Bligh stepped in and announced a moratorium on the recovery of overpayments. But those who have already entered into recovery plans have the option to continue.

Queensland Health would not disclose the lowest amount it had allowed employees to repay each pay cycle but Dr O'Connell admitted many were paying back "quite small amounts".


Queensland Health's famous record-keeping again

Gold Coast Hospital apologises after boy, 3, has surgery to remove pins that were not there

THE Gold Coast Hospital is investigating why a three-year-old boy had surgery on his arm to remove pins that were not there. Rico Phan went to the Southport hospital on July 7 to have pins removed from his elbow following a fracture he received in May, The Gold Coast Bulletin reports. But doctors later apologised to Rico's family, saying the pins had already been removed.

The Reedy Creek boy fell half a metre from a bench at daycare on May 24, injuring his right arm. He had an operation that day in which stainless-steel pins were used and his arm was put in a sling. The family says he returned to hospital on June 17 to have his plaster removed and that is when they believed the pins were taken out.

At a follow-up appointment with a different doctor, Rico's mum Anna Nguyen said she was told Rico needed to return on July 7 for another procedure to have pins removed.


1 comment:

Paul said...

Yes QH employees are paying back small amounts. This is because it is one of the few ways they feel they can hit back personally after the unbelievable and arrogant breach of trust they have been subjected to. Also, many disagree on amounts but just want it all behind them and are accepting smaller claims as possibly true despite the lack of validation provided by QH for these claims. The abject hatred many feel toward Queensland Health is palpable. This is about to be compounded by a coming round of bed closures and service cuts, which still don't appear to have hit the media despite it now being well known among higher-end staff in the hospitals.