Mum Krysten Harvey breaks down as she describes how the payroll debacle affected her in a press conference.
Mum Krysten Harvey breaks down as she describes how the payroll debacle affected her in a press conference. Kathy Sundstrom

Nurse pursued for six years over $330 Qld Health debt

A SUNSHINE Coast law firm is helping about 10 Queensland Health employees being chased for questionable debts from the seven-year-old payroll debacle.

Julian Porter, lawyer at community legal service, Suncoast Community Legal, said the matters were "ongoing".

And Member for Kawana Jarrod Blejie said he had six Queensland Health employees in his electorate alone who had come to him for help.

One former nurse, who asked only to be identified as Kate, was being pursued for a mere $330 in dispute since 2010.

Her ongoing attempts since 2011 to get answers for how this figure was determined have gone nowhere.

In December last year, two months after she received notice that debt collectors were dealing with the matter, Queensland Health gave her a staggering response.

"They said they could not prove where the debt came from as they did not keep records that were (then) six years old," Kate said.

Despite this, the case manager with the payroll system was still insisting Kate pay the amount allegedly owed.

Jarrod Bleijie on Qld Health payroll debacle: Jarrod Bleijie speaks out over attempts by Queensland Health to force nurses overpaid during the payroll debacle to pay back their debts.
Jarrod Bleijie on Qld Health payroll debacle: Jarrod Bleijie speaks out over attempts by Queensland Health to force nurses overpaid during the payroll debacle to pay back their debts.

Her case echoes that of Warana mum Krysten Harvey who is being pursued by Queensland Health for $6000 they claimed she owed for being overpaid while working as a "wardie" in 2009/2010.

Mr Bleijie held a press conference with Ms Harvey and called on Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to intervene for the six people he had in his electorate.

"Annastacia Palaszczuk's handpicked Health Minister has refused to assist these nurses, refused to provide information about how many nurses on the Sunshine Coast he has set debt collectors onto, refused to accept my invitation for him to meet with the nurses he is targeting and refused to intervene despite evidence proving these alleged overpayment amounts are wrong," Mr Bleijie said.

Ms Harvey had to hold back tears as she told how she was sometimes only paid $19 a fortnight after working 64 hours as an 18-year-old wardie in a busy hospital cleaning up bodily fluids and other mess.

Since the Daily began making inquiries on her behalf on Wednesday, February 22, the debt collection firm has advised her it has now referred the matter back to Queensland Health.

As for Kate, she has spent five years trying to be reasonable with Queensland Health in finding a solution.

The total amount Queensland Health is claiming is $550 for two shifts.

Kate is not arguing about $220 and would be happy to pay it back.

But she would only be happy to do this once someone explained why they were billing her for $330 as well.

"I'm not going to pay any of it until this gets resolved," she said.

Mr Porter said the onus was on the government to prove a debt, not on the person it was trying to collect it from.

"On the balance of probabilities, they have to prove what the debt is with some precision," he said.

Mr Bleijie said he had been trying to get Health Minister Cameron Dick to resolve this issue for months.

"Imagine working for Queensland Health eight years ago and being the innocent party in Labor's payroll disaster

"Then some eight years later, when you no longer work for Queensland Health, you get a call out of the blue saying you owe money and if you can't prove you don't the Labor government will set their debt collectors on you.

"I have personally met with these nurses and have seen the documentation from Queensland Health and it's an absolute mess - no original records, multiple discrepancies and the mere existence and accuracy of alleged overpayments has not been demonstrated."