Krysten Harvey, pictured with her son Ashton Payne, is not happy about being told by Queensland Health that she owes $6000 after seven years.
Krysten Harvey, pictured with her son Ashton Payne, is not happy about being told by Queensland Health that she owes $6000 after seven years. John McCutcheon

Qld Health chases mum for $6000 after payroll debacle

A SUNSHINE Coast mum is being chased by a debt collector on behalf of Queensland Health for $6000 they say she was overpaid as a result of the payroll debacle seven years ago.

Krysten Harvey is fuming as she has been trying to get an explanation from Queensland Health for more than a year showing how they have worked out the debt.

She's had no response and didn't think more of the matter, particularly as six months ago she gave birth to her first child.

But on Monday she received a text from a debt collector advising she was now being pursued for the alleged funds.

"Please contact ARL on .... concerning a matter received from Queensland Health," the text read.


The text Krysten Harvey received from a debt collector.
The text Krysten Harvey received from a debt collector. Kathy Sundstrom

Ms Harvey, who worked as a wardie for Queensland Health in 2009 and 2010 while on a year off from university for her nurse studies, was hit by the payroll debacle "pretty blood bad".

Sometimes she would go without pay for "months" and then her pay was "always wrong if I was paid".

"None of my pay slips matched the figure which was finally deposited into my bank account," she said.

"Mind you, I was also receiving two pay slips each fortnight. Why? I don't know. These pay slips made no sense at all.

" I'd work a 64-hour contract, I was casual and one pay slip would say I was paid nothing and the other pay slip would say I was taxed $1200."

It became so bad, it "marred the rest of my experience with Queensland Health".

"I struggled to pay bills, to pay my rent, to eat, to afford fuel to even get to work.

"I called Centrelink out of desperation only to be told that they couldn't do anything because 'on paper' I was earning money."

She washed her hands of the matter out of frustration.

The payroll debacle, which affected thousands of Queensland Health employees, sparked a Commission of Inquiry by Honourable Richard Chesterman in 2013.

He described it as a "catastrophic failure".

Minister for Health and Minister for Ambulance Services Cameron Dick (left) with Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service CEO Kevin Hegarty at Sunshine Coast University Hospital today, February 3, 2017.
Health Minister Cameron Dick apologised in for the pay debacle September 2015. Patrick Woods

Health Minister Cameron Dick also apologised in September 2015 that the "payroll system under the previous Labor government was a disaster".

But if Ms Harvey thought that was the end of the nightmare, she was wrong. It was only the beginning.

In 2016 when she was pregnant with her first child and working as a registered nurse, she received a phone call from Queensland Health.

She thought it was about appointments for her pregnancy, but it wasn't.

"It's about a supposed $6000 plus debt that I owe to Queensland Health," she said.

Thankfully, Ms Harvey had kept her pay slips and could access her bank statements from six years earlier and she took the matter to her local member Jarrod Bleijie and she asked Queensland Health for their documentation.

None of their examples matched what she was paid on her pay slips.

That was months ago and she hoped the debacle was behind her, until she received the text from the debt collector.

"The year is now 2017 and they've sent the issue to a debt collector now which I can only imagine meant that I have been defaulted for an amount of money that they have practically made up," Ms Harvey said.

She is determined to fight it as they have caused me an "insurmountable amount of emotional trauma".

"I gave birth to my now six-month-old son two weeks early due to stress-induced pre-eclampsia and now they are potentially affecting my ability to get a loan."

Mr Bleijie was also amazed this issue had raised its ugly head again.

"I feel for Krysten and other nurses who have contacted me about the Palaszczuk government's cruel attempt to recoup alleged overpayments that can't be proven and occurred over six years ago under Labor's watch," he said.

"This is seriously affecting Sunshine Coast families and it's time Cameron Dick stepped out of his ivory tower, listened to Queenslanders, and fixed his own mess."

Queensland Health was approached early yesterday for comment. No response was received by deadline.