Queensland Health

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Queensland Health
Queensland Government logo.svg
Queensland Health is the public health system of the Queensland Government
Agency overview
Formed1859; 164 years ago (1859)[1]
JurisdictionQueensland Government
Headquarters33 Charlotte Street, Brisbane
EmployeesIncrease 97,207 (2020–21)[2]
Annual budgetIncrease A$22.24 billion (2021–22)[3]
Minister responsible
Deputy Minister responsible
Agency executive
  • Shawn Drummond, Director-General[5]
Child agencies

Queensland Health is the name of the overall public health service in the state of Queensland, Australia. The system is made up of 16 Hospital and Health Services (HHS'), and the Queensland Department of Health. Each HHS covers a certain geographical area of Queensland, with the exception of the state-wide service, Children's Health Queensland, and operates health facilities and other services. The Department of Health is responsible for the management and performance of the system, and support services like finance, centralised supply and procurement, HR, and IT services.[1] Most HHS' also have associated foundations and authorities, which provide additional support.[6]

Like all other states and territories in Australia, the Queensland Government provides free or low-cost health services to people with a Medicare card or are from reciprocal country, or at-cost services to ineligible patients. In addition, some people from northern New South Wales and the Northern Territory receive care through Queensland Health due to a lack of services in their local areas. Queensland became the first state in Australia to introduce free universal public hospital treatment in January 1946, a policy later adopted by other jurisdictions.[7]

Queensland Health employs over 97,000 staff and has an annual operating budget of over AU$30 billion.[2] At the end of June 2014, there were 11,109 inpatient beds available across all state hospitals, with 305 designed intensive care beds.[8][9]


2005 restructure[edit]

Queensland Health was restructured toward the end of 2005 from 38 health districts to 20. There were a number consolidations particularly in the urban areas with the formation of the "Northside" and "Southside" Districts. Northside District included three major hospital facilities including The Prince Charles Hospital, Redcliffe and Caboolture Hospitals while Southside brought the Logan, Redlands, Beaudesert and Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Hospitals together. Due to their size and areas they covered, the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital (RBWH) on the Northside, and the Princess Alexandra Hospital on the Southside remained independent districts in their own right.

Toowoomba Hospital, 2008

In September 2008, the 20 health service districts were further reduced to 15. Six new districts were created, merging together other districts:

  • Darling Downs-West Moreton incorporating the former Toowoomba and Darling Downs and West Moreton South Burnett districts.
  • Sunshine Coast-Wide Bay incorporating the Sunshine Coast – Cooloola, Wide Bay and Fraser Coast health service districts.
  • Metro South incorporates the Southside Health Service District and Princess Alexandra Hospital.
  • Metro North incorporates the Northside Health Service District and Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital.
  • Children's Health Services, will oversee the implementation of a state-wide paediatric service.

2006 Health Quality and Complaints Commission[edit]

In response to the Forster Review of Queensland Health Systems an independent Health Quality and Complaints Commission was established on 1 July 2006 to allow patients to lodge complaints about health matters.[10]

The (full-time) Commissioner is Professor Michael Ward, a former Professor of Medicine at the University of Queensland. There are also a number of part-time Assistant Commissioners.

The Health Quality and Complaints Commission also has a role in the development and implementation of quality, safety and clinical practice standards throughout Queensland's public and private services and monitor best practice clinical governance and patient safety.

It was subject to review by an all-party Parliamentary Committee after its first full year of operation.

The HQCC has since been replaced by the Office of the Health Ombudsman.

2011 proposed decentralisation[edit]

Former Premier Anna Bligh announced on 12 December 2011 that the department would be dismantled. The decision was attributed to an "unacceptable culture", the theft of $16 million from the department and problems with the payroll system which has cost hundreds of millions of dollars.[11] The department was due to cease operations on 1 July 2012.[11]

In January 2012, more details of the reform plan were announced, with an emphasis on health care management to be done locally.[12] Bligh described the changes as the biggest decentralisation of the public sector in the state's history.[13] In March 2012, the ALP lost power in Queensland and the proposed abolition of Queensland Health did not eventuate.

2012 restructure[edit]

The 2011 National Health Reform Agreement was signed by all states and territories, and required the creation of local health boards and hospital networks that would be directly funded by the Commonwealth.[14][15] In May 2012, the agreement was formalised in Queensland through legislation proposed by Lawrence Springborg, which transitioned the health districts to independent Hospital and Health Service entities.[16] Under the new arrangements, each HHS would have their own board to manage and oversee health operations in that region.[17] The boards are accountable to the minister for health, and the Department of Health was established as a 'system manager' to provide oversight and support to each of the services.[18] These changes became effective on 1 July 2012.

Hospital and Health Services[edit]

The Health and Hospital Services are independent statutory bodies which are responsible for delivering public health services in their areas. Each HHS is governed by a Hospital and Health Board and managed by a Health Service Chief Executive.[19] There are 15 regional HHS', and one state-wide HHS (Children's Health Queensland). The HHS' are:[20]

  • Cairns and Hinterland
  • Central Queensland
  • Central West
  • Darling Downs
  • Gold Coast
  • Mackay
  • Metro North
  • Metro South
  • North West
  • South West
  • Sunshine Coast
  • Torres and Cape
  • Townsville
  • West Moreton
  • Wide Bay
  • Children's Health Queensland

Children's Health Queensland (CHQ) operates the state-wide children's hospital in South Brisbane, as well as provides specialist advice to health practitioner in Queensland via telehealth, and runs programs throughout the state such as the Good Start Program and school-based nursing services.[21] Children from anywhere across Queensland can be referred to CHQ, and can receive specialist care at Queensland Children's Hospital.

As not all HHS' are able to provide advanced care services, largely due to the size and remoteness of its catchments, some HHS (primarily Metro North and Metro South) accept referrals from outside their catchment where the service cannot be provided locally. To assist with this, Queensland has a Patient Travel Subsidy Scheme which covers reasonable costs of transport and accommodation to another public facility if it cannot be provided locally.[22]


Jayant Patel scandal[edit]

Queensland Health and the Bundaberg Base Hospital were involved in a scandal surrounding the employment of surgeon Jayant Patel. The Queensland Medical Board approved his registration and he was then quickly promoted to Director of Surgery even though he lacked specific qualifications.[23] In March 2005, Rob Messenger raised concerns with Patel's medical practices in the Queensland Parliament after he was contacted by senior hospital nurse Toni Hoffman.[24] Hoffman received the Order of Australia medal and 2006 Australian of the Year Local Hero Award for her role as a whistleblower. An inquiry into the matter known as the Morris Inquiry was started but was terminated on the grounds of perceived bias.[23] A second inquiry known as the Davies Inquiry found that the district manager and the hospital's Director of Medical Services had mostly ignored more than 20 complaints regarding Patel.[23]

On 1 July 2010, Patel was sentenced to seven years' jail after he was found guilty of three charges of manslaughter and one count of grievous bodily harm.[24] Patel appealed his conviction and sentence to the Court of Appeal, his appeal was dismissed. Patel appealed to the Queensland Court of Appeal who rejected his application. He further appealed to the High Court of Australia, which unanimously allowed the appeal and quashed Patel's convictions on the ground that prejudicial evidence had likely influenced the jury on 24 August 2012.[25][26]

The following year, a retrial was held for one of the manslaughter charges, and Patel was acquitted by the jury.[27] The remaining manslaughter and grievous bodily harm charges were later dropped in exchange for Patel pleading guilty to two counts related to him dishonestly gaining registration and two counts related to dishonestly gaining employment in Queensland.[28] Patel was sentenced to a two-year suspended sentence for those fraud charges.[28] On 15 May 2015, the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal ordered that Patel's registration with the Medical Board of Australia be revoked, preventing him from ever practising medicine in Australia again.[29][30]

Fake Tahitian Prince scandal[edit]

New Zealand citizen and Queensland Health employee, Hohepa Hikairo 'Joel' Morehu-Barlow, was jailed in 2013 for embezzlement of $16 million from the system between 2007 and 2011. He also pleaded guilty to fraud, for taking part in a Tahitian Prince scam and for using a fake law degree to secure a promotion within Queensland Health. The Queensland Crime and Corruption Commission said in 2013 that the fraud "may be the single largest fraud ever committed in the Queensland public sector".[31]

In 2020 upon his parole from custody, the Australian Border Force cancelled Morehu-Barlow's visa and he was deported to New Zealand under the Migration Act 1958 (Cth).[31]

Payroll issues[edit]

Queensland Health has experienced several issues with its payroll systems and processes over the years, most notably the troublesome launch of the SAP-based system in 2010 that saw significant underpayments to staff for several months. Each year, millions of dollars in underpayments, overpayments or other adjustments are processed by payroll services, largely due to data entry error or late form submissions by employees, managers and payroll staff.[32]

2010 new payroll system issues[edit]

In April 2010, it was revealed that many Queensland Health staff were experiencing incorrect payment of wages since the introduction of a new payroll system.[33] The "MyHR" and "WorkBrain" SAP-based systems replaced the previous LATTICE system.[34] It went live in March 2010, without adequate testing and despite warnings from SAP and IBM.

The problem was not resolved by May, with 35,000 wage anomalies to be fixed, but some progress had been made.[35] The State was advised that it could sue IBM for damages totaling $88M.[36] On 23 November 2010, the Queensland government announced that a negotiated settlement with IBM will spend $209 million over three years to resolve payroll problems.[37]

The system is very labor-intensive and requires ten times the staff as other systems. It is estimated to cost $1.2B before 2018 when it is recommended to be replaced. According to the 2013 Commission of Inquiry, "the QH payroll system must take a place in the front rank of failures in public administration in this country".[36]

Payroll System Commission of Inquiry[edit]

The Queensland Health Payroll System Commission of Inquiry (QHPSCI) was established by order of the Governor in Council on 13 December 2012. The Honourable Richard Chesterman AO RFD QC commenced the Inquiry on 1 February 2013. In his remarks at the directions hearing, Commissioner Chesterman explained the purpose of the inquiry "is to determine why such large amounts of money have been lost to the public, whether anything might be recovered; and why such distress was inflicted on the Queensland Health workforce." [38]

QHPSCI's public hearings began on Monday 11 March 2013 with phase one focusing on the "Tender Process". The second phase, examining the 'Contract' with IBM, commenced on 22 April 2013. The third and final phase, "Settlement", began on Monday 27 May 2013. The former Premier and two ex-ministers were called to give evidence during this phase. A special hearing was held on the 18 June 2013 to deal with late information submitted to the Commission. The QHPSCI presented its findings to the Premier on 31 July 2013.[39]

2023 payroll corrections[edit]

In March 2023, Queensland Health internal auditing found that there had been further payroll issues relating to certain industrial awards being entered incorrectly into the system. Health Minister Yvette D'Ath clarified to parliament that for the majority of affected staff were overpaid by less than a dollar and that the government would not require staff to repay the balance. A limited number of staff received larger overpayments, however only up to $100.[32]

An audit of all Queensland Health payroll during the affected period has been announced and is expected to be completed by the end of June 2023. It is expected that some underpayments, with a value of several million dollars, will be uncovered. Payment corrections (additional pay) is occurring in batches of 50 employees, to allow for payments to begin before the end of the audit.[32]

An external audit of the system found that the industrial awards and instruments have since been corrected and are compliant with Australian and Queensland workplace laws.[32]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b "Queensland Health on Facebook". Facebook. 1 September 2016. Archived from the original on 26 February 2022. Retrieved 30 August 2020.
  2. ^ a b "Department of Health Annual Report 2020–2021" (PDF). Annual Report. Brisbane, Australia: Queensland Government. 28 September 2021. ISSN 1838-4110. Retrieved 5 November 2021.
  3. ^ "2021-22 Budget". Queensland Health. 15 June 2021. Retrieved 28 May 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. ^ "Minister for Health and Ambulance Services, Yvette D'Ath MP". Queensland Cabinet and Ministerial Directory. 1 November 2021. Retrieved 5 November 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. ^ "Director-General". Queensland Health. 20 September 2019. Retrieved 30 August 2020.
  6. ^ "Queensland Health organisational structure". Queensland Health. 20 September 2019. Retrieved 30 August 2020.
  7. ^ "Free Hospital Treatment". The Worker. Brisbane. 7 January 1946. p. 10. Retrieved 30 August 2020 – via Trove (National Library of Australia).
  8. ^ "Available beds and available bed alternatives as at 30 June, 2011/2012,2012/2013, 2013/2014". Open Data Portal. Queensland Government. 28 January 2015. Retrieved 15 April 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  9. ^ Dennien, Matt (12 January 2022). "'Nine times more likely to end up in hospital': Qld CHO warns the unvaxxed". Brisbane Times. Retrieved 12 January 2022.
  10. ^ "About us". Health Quality and Complaints Commission. Retrieved 22 January 2012.
  11. ^ a b Steven Wardill & Koren Helbig (12 December 2011). "Queensland Health beyond repair, to be broken up, says Premier Anna Bligh". The Courier Mail. News Queensland. Retrieved 22 January 2012.
  12. ^ "Bligh to kill off Queensland Health amid sweeping reforms". Brisbane Times. Fairfax Media. 21 January 2012. Retrieved 22 January 2012.
  13. ^ "Health reforms dismissed as a panic move". Herald Sun. Herald and Weekly Times. 21 January 2012. Retrieved 22 January 2012.
  14. ^ "Australian Health Care Agreements". Archived from the original on 3 August 2012. Retrieved 22 February 2022.
  15. ^ National Healthcare Agreement 2011, Yourhealthgov.au
  16. ^ "Hospital Network and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2012". Archived from the original on 3 October 2012.
  17. ^ "Hospital and Health Services". Archived from the original on 10 November 2012.
  18. ^ "Corporate Office transition to System Manager". Queensland Health. Archived from the original on 10 November 2012.
  19. ^ "State of Queensland (Department of Health) Annual Report 2012-2013" (PDF). State of Queensland (Queensland Health). Retrieved 17 September 2014.
  20. ^ "About Hospital and Health Services". State of Queensland (Queensland Health). Retrieved 17 September 2014.
  21. ^ "Our Services". Children's Health Queensland. 15 August 2019. Retrieved 15 April 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  22. ^ "About the Patient Travel Subsidy Scheme". Queensland Government. Queensland Health. 19 February 2018. Retrieved 15 April 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  23. ^ a b c Healy, Judith (2011). Improving Health Care Safety and Quality: Reluctant Regulators. Farnham, England: Ashgate Publishing. p. 34. ISBN 978-0-7546-7644-7. Retrieved 22 January 2012.
  24. ^ a b Amelia Bentley (1 July 2010). "'Totally inadequate': verdict split on Patel sentence". Brisbane Times. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 22 January 2012.
  25. ^ Patel v The Queen [2012] HCA 29, (2012) 247 CLR 531 (24 August 2012), High Court (Australia).
  26. ^ Jared Owens (24 August 2012). "Jayant Patel walks free after High Court quashes manslaughter convictions". The Australian.
  27. ^ Brooke Baskin; Tony Keim; Josh Robertson (14 March 2013). "Jayant Patel not guilty over patient death but more charges loom". The Courier Mail. Retrieved 30 November 2013.
  28. ^ a b Francene Norton & Jason Rawlins (22 November 2013). "Former Bundaberg-based doctor Jayant Patel sentenced over fraud charges". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
  29. ^ "Medical Board of Australia v Patel [2015] QCAT 133 (11 May 2015)". Austlii.edu.au. Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal. 11 May 2015. Retrieved 13 March 2021 – via Australasian Legal Information Institute.
  30. ^ Taylor, John (15 May 2015). "Bundaberg surgeon Jayant Patel barred from ever practising medicine again in Australia". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 15 May 2015.
  31. ^ a b "Fake Tahitian prince deported to New Zealand after defrauding millions from Queensland Government". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 28 February 2020. Retrieved 15 April 2023.
  32. ^ a b c d Silk, Marty (17 March 2023). "Queensland health workers may have been underpaid 'millions'". Brisbane Times. Retrieved 15 April 2023.
  33. ^ "Bligh cancels overseas trip to fix payroll problems". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 20 April 2010. Retrieved 22 January 2012.
  34. ^ Rosanne Barrett (22 April 2010). "Qld Health payroll debacle worsens". The Australian. News Limited. Retrieved 22 January 2012.
  35. ^ Kym Agius (5 May 2010). "Qld Health payroll system in chaos: ASU". The Australian. News Limited. Retrieved 22 January 2012.
  36. ^ a b "Queensland Health Payroll System Commission of Inquiry Report" (PDF). State of Queensland. 31 July 2013. Retrieved 28 October 2017. pg216
  37. ^ Chris O'Brien (23 November 2010). "More than $200m to fix health payroll system". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 22 January 2012.
  38. ^ "Commissioner's directions hearing remarks" (PDF). Healthpayrollinquiry.qld.gov.au. 1 February 2013. Retrieved 13 March 2021.
  39. ^ "Queensland Health Payroll System Commission of Inquiry". Healthpayrollinquiry.qld.gov.au. 2013. Retrieved 13 March 2021.

External links[edit]