UMail for members in Health

Posted June 15, 2012 by Alex Scott

Restructure of Queensland Health's Corporate Areas | All Queensland Health jobs matter | Townsville EMP dispute | DCHO dispute | Shift Workers Projected rosters | Overpayments | National Health Reforms | Payroll Staff Update | EHealth

Restructure of Queensland Health's Corporate Areas

This week, Queensland Health put out a Business case for change: Restructuring Queensland Health's Corporate Office to become System Manager.  This plan will see a restructure to see Corporate Office become a single system manager.

Together council delegates have major concerns about the commercialised business units proposed in the model. Council delegates are particularly concerned with the plan for a Health Services Support Agency (HSSA) that the document states will be able to purchase services from alternate providers..

The current government gave Together members clear election commitments in regards to Pathology Queensland and Biomedical and Technical Services: that these areas would continue to be publically owned and operated, supplying pathology services to the Local Area Health Networks. A letter has been sent to the Premier to remind the government of these commitments and subsequent discussions with the Premier have thus far been positive with regards to honoring these commitments.

Council Members within the Information Division also have major concerns that this will negatively impact on the Queensland Health system and that all members need to provide feedback on this proposal.

The business case for the proposed structure and organisational arrangements can be viewed at http://qheps.health.qld.gov.au/health-reform/home.htm Members are strongly encouraged to provide feedback on how this will affect you in the workplace, how this could impact the Health System and what this could potentially mean to Queenslanders. Feedback can be provided to health@together.org.au

You are also encouraged to provide the same feedback on the proposal to comments@health.qld.gov.au before the consultation period closes on 21 June 2012.

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All Queensland Health jobs matter

Thanks to all of the members who have conducted meetings in their workplaces this week. There has been a huge response to the changes that Queensland Health has made under the heading of the government's Establishment Management Plan (EMP) - that have seen the disappearance of many positions in the government, affecting workloads and service delivery.

Queensland Health is in a unique position in that our collective agreements explicitly state that positions must be filled within specific timeframes. Whether or not you are classed as "frontline," the fact still remains that your job is necessary and Queensland Health under the terms of your agreement should be acting to ensure vacancies do not occur.

If you have not conducted a meeting in your workplace then please make sure you download a kit that gives you all the information you need to hold one.

As a result of these meetings and Together's dispute hearing in the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (QIRC), Queensland Health is to advise the districts, divisions and state wide services to supply the following information:

Since the EMP commenced:

  • How many temporary engagements have not been renewed or other vacancies not filled since the commencement of EMP, broken down by; classification, employment type (full -time, part-time or casual) and the positions, work location, MOHRI coded front line status and employment history of the incumbent in each position that has not been replaced.
  • When were temporary employees advised they would not be renewed? How were they advised? How were they advised of their entitlements?
  • How were the workload impacts of not filling the vacant position addressed?
  • What consultation occurred regarding the decision to not fill positions? Was a business case provided to the DCF or equivalent?

Future impact of EMP:

  • The current size of the workforce in each district, corporate division and statewide service.
  • The target budgeted full-time equivalent (FTE) in each district, corporate division and statewide service.
  • The definition of "front-line" and "non-frontline" as applied in each in each district, corporate division and statewide service.
  • End dates for temporary engagements (including higher duties and backfill arrangements) due to end this financial year broken down by; classification, employment type (full -time, part-time or casual) and the positions, work location, MOHRI coded front line status and employment history of the incumbent in each position.
  • What tasks/functions will cease as a result of the workload impact of not filling vacancies?
  • Have all the temporary employees been reviewed per directive in respect of conversion to permanent?
  • When will a business case be provided to the DCF or equivalent to establish the benefits of the organisational change?

If you attend a Queensland Health consultative forum it is important that you attend this extraordinary meeting and that these questions are answered. The answers then need to be distributed to the membership of your areas and also to health@together.org.au

The QIRC also required the RCG consultation group meet in an extraordinary meeting to answer the following:

  • Is there a business case to establish the Queensland-Health wide benefits of the organisational change?
  • The definition of front-line and non front-line employees as advised by corporate office. Department wide numbers of the same.
  • The definition of funded and non funded positions as advised by corporate office. Department wide numbers of the same.

Further to this the Director General of Health is to answer what decision making processes have taken place since the commencement of the EMP.

  • Number of exemptions to fill vacancies sought from districts, divisions and state-wide services.
  • Number of exemptions being approved and rejected by the DG for each district, division and state-wide service.

A further update will be given to members as we receive more information.

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Townsville EMP dispute

In response to statements by Queensland Health Townsville that they would make budget cuts and implement the EMP policy in defiance of the industrial provisions, members and delegates attended mass meetings and a dispute notification was lodged with the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission.

The meetings were extremely successful with large numbers of staff attending. The meeting strongly endorsed the motions, and there has been a high level of positive feedback about the meeting, with members saying they value the information provided and the up-to-date knowledge of the situation.

There have also been a number of members who contacted the local delegates both by email and in person after the meeting to say they were unable to attend but asked to sign the motion. Members are now organising to have a delegation of Together members speaking to their local state MPs about the negative impact of these changes.

The issue was picked up by the local media, resulting in news articles and television interviews. As a result of this media and community interest the district CEO sent out a district wide memo asking that staff only listen to the organisation's correspondence in regards to this issue. We would encourage members to reach their own decisions on these issues.

The outcome of the Townsville dispute run in the QIRC was that there would be an emergency district consultative forum on 7 June 2012. Any temporary employees with the characteristics of rolling temporary employees shall not be terminated prior to 7 June and permanent positions that Queensland Health considers to be non-frontline shall have no negative decision about vacancy filling prior to 7 June. Queensland Health shall receive representations in respect of employees caught up in higher duties issues, where a manager has directed them to act in a position without authority.

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DCHO dispute

The Division of the Chief Health Officer, Queensland Health has been very badly hit by the Voluntary Separation Program and the new Establishment Management Program. 114 staff have left and have not been replaced. It is expected that about 80 temporary staff will soon be going as the their contracts expire. Some of the temporary staff have been working for the DCHO for seven or more years and their loss will cause extra problems as remaining staff scramble to ensure essential and critical work is able to be done. There are also a number of long term un-filled vacancies and other staffing problems.

Along with these staff losses, there is a refusal by Queensland Health to acknowledge the DCHO as a "frontline" service even though the current government made election commitments to that effect. This has led to a major drop in morale, increased workload pressures on staff, frustration by middle managers as they try to recruit to fill gaping holes in teams and a general lack of leadership across the Division as fear of the future freezes by senior management.

Together delegates and members have been proactive in trying to fill this leadership vacuum by providing as much reliable information as possible, by gathering data on departures and their consequences, encouraging the use of workload management tools and trying to engage with reluctant senior management at the Divisional Consultative Forum.

Local delegates recently held a Sticker Day to show support for our co-workers and friends who just happen to be temporary appointments and to push for a recognition that the work of the DCHO is definitely "frontline". The Sticker Day was a great success both in the DCHO Head Office in Herston and in the 17 Public Health Units across the state. Members as well as non-members wore stickers along with several middle level managers. A huge number of members joined the union and a sense of working together for a good collective outcome has started to grow.

A dispute has now been brought to the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission. It was clear to all parties that consultation has not occurred regarding the EMP, and the unfilled vacancies and loss of temporary staff is impacting on staff.

As part of the discussion, Commissioner Brown has advised that consultation must occur prior to the implementation of changes to the workforce once temporary staff contracts end. The Commissioner advised that the status quo must remain until a business case is provided and consultation has occurred.

This means that until thorough consultation has occurred - no DCHO workers are allowed to take on extra work or change their duties because of the departure of temporary staff. This clear instruction today from the Commissioner shows that DCHO management need to ensure staff are not asked to change / lose / take on additional duties, as this would now be an unlawful direction.

If you have taken on extra work or duties as a result of temporary staff going, then you need to let us know immediately by emailing health@together.org.au. You also need to let us know if your manager asks you to do any work that was previously done by temporary staff who have gone.

The events at the QIRC are important, but in the long run it will be the determination of staff from DCHO to stand up and defend a strong public and preventative health structure for Queensland that will make the difference.

That process of standing up has well and truly begun.

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Shift Workers Projected rosters

A dispute was recently run in the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission on behalf of shift workers who work on a projected roster.

While continuous shift workers get an additional leave loading, non-continuous shift workers are only getting Monday-Friday when on annual leave, rather than the projected roster which the Award provides for.

Queensland Health should pay non-continuous shift workers who work on projected rosters in lieu of 17.5% if the projected roster would be more.

Queensland Health has not been paying projected rosters just 17.5%. This means that a member whose projected roster included 8 hrs working Sunday would receive more and a member working one Saturday and at least three afternoon/night shifts would receive more than 17.5%.

If you believe that you have a claim against Queensland Health on this basis you will need to place this in writing to your local Payroll office who will review your pay.

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Overpayments

Queensland Health has announced the lifting of the moratorium - or temporary suspension - on the recovery of payroll overpayments. This means Queensland Health will gradually be contacting members to resolve their alleged overpayments of amounts greater than $200. Members will receive a letter from Queensland Health by 30 June 2012 if Queensland Health believes that you have been overpaid.

Together members are well aware that if they have been overpaid by Queensland Health that this money will be paid back.

Delegates are currently negotiating with Queensland Health around the process for overpayment recovery.

From 30 September 2012, the Department will be introducing a three month deadline for submission of old payroll associated forms. Members are expected to continue to lodge current forms in the usual timely manner, but members will have until 30 September 2012 to submit any historic payroll forms.

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National Health Reforms

With the new Hospital and Health Services to come into operation from 1 July 2012, there have been a number of changes from the previous Local Hospital Health Networks.

On 17 May 2012 the Minister for Health, Lawrence Springborg MP, introduced legislation into the Parliament to implement the government's model for the public sector health system in Queensland.

From 1 July 2012, Hospital and Health Boards (previously called 'governing councils') will oversee the delivery of health services by statutory bodies to be called Hospital and Health Services (previously called 'Local Health and Hospital Networks'). The Health and Hospitals Network Act 2011 is to be renamed the Hospital and Health Boards Act 2011 (the Act).

The proposed changes by the Health and Hospitals Network and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2012 (the Bill) recommend:

  • Staff be employed by Hospital and Health Services (HHSs)
  • HHSs have the capacity to own land and buildings.

Details of the changes and the new Bill can be found at:
http://www.health.qld.gov.au/health-reform/html/resources.asp

At the last EB8 implementation group it was requested that in preparation for the next meeting that questions regarding the National Health Reforms that Together members wanted answered at this meeting be sent to the Secretariat. Please email these questions to heather.hayes@together.org.au.

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Payroll Staff Update

After a meeting with the Deputy Director General Lyn Rowland and the Director of Payroll Jean Clifford late yesterday afternoon your union can confirm that the temporary contracts for most members in payroll have been extended to 2 December 2012.

Discussions around the implementation of the Qhealth Payroll Staff Proposal is on going.

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EHealth

EHealth is soon to be rolled out to pilot sites and, in the long term, across the State. EHealth is an electronic database of client's records and will enable staff to access patient records without access to a hard file copy.

Members will be able to access client records and the on-going audit data matching of staff/accessed addresses and names. Members will need to ensure that they have adequate training and are aware of their obligations relating to client access and the potential penalties.

Together concerns are, as an ongoing audit process will be used to detect unauthorised or inappropriate accessing of clients' records and appropriate penalties applied, that additional training will be given to staff.

 


Authorised Alex Scott, Secretary, Together.
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