Queensland Health does it again;
Well not really. You see, this bad decision started some 5 years ago when the Queensland Public Works Director General and the Minister of the day for Department of Public Works accepted a multi vendor, whole of Government, software solution for a complex payroll need that did not comply with the original tender requirements and would never meet individual State Government Departments requirements.
This so called "Software Solution" was concocted at the time by IBM and did not work from day one of its cursed existence. The Software Solution in question flowed like the majestic Brisbane river into Queensland Health some 3 years ago, where despite alarm bells and early warnings to senior Queensland Health officials of critical faults in the solution, nothing changed and it was full steam ahead. Along the way the Software Solution meandered its way through other Departments creating untold havoc along the way at the Queensland Department of Housing and QBuild before flowing with full force into Queensland Health to cause even more destruction.
In the case of Queensland Health the Software Solution combines two applications. The applications we are talking about include a core payroll system by SAP that for all intents and purpose works fairly well. This has then been bolted to a highly complex pay award interpretation engine and staff rostering application by WorkBrain that unfortunately does not work and that in my mind, and that of my Queensland Health peers, clearly never will.
Over the last 3 years of testing alone at Queensland Health we have raised the inherent failings of this particular application so many times because during all of the testing we have done the application has never worked properly or predictably. We believe it has always failed because it had some major faults in its core code. In the end we gave up raising issues and concerns with management about these problems because it became very clear that no one was listening either in the Department or in IBM.
The application as it stands today in Queensland Health has now been so heavily modified by all parties, in an effort to turn a sows ear into a silk purse, that the original application vendor will no longer support it and it will never be able to be upgraded when the original application vendor releases upgrades for it. No upgrade path, no future development and $40 Million of Queensland tax payers hard earned cash flushed down the proverbial toilet and this is only for Queensland Health at this stage, wait till they do the same at Queensland Police and Queensland Education.
However for Queensland Health this is not the worst of it, these critical faults and more are now only just coming to light with the current pay issues where people are either being unpaid, overpaid or worse still, skimmed. Imagine trying to calculate your pay to see if it has been skimmed by $20 When a $40 Million mega calculator payed for with your taxes cannot even work it out; All I can say is good luck.
Still, though inconvenient for the employees of Queensland Health, and as illegal in corporate behavioural terms as this is for Queensland Health, this is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of what is actually going wrong with this critical and potentially life threatening application.
Imagine if you will a complex rostering application that is supposed to roster the right number and type of specialist care doctors and nurses to work at any given time in a given place throughout the great state of Queensland. Now imagine it is not working correctly, partly because it was never designed to do this task for healthcare providers such as Queensland Health, partly because of its inherent coding glitches and finally because it has been modified so greatly beyond how it is supposed to be used that it has become inherently dangerous in the accuracy of the information that it provides to the people who need it most.
Because of this application the type of medical care and skills that are available to taxpayers, in an emergency and god help them should they ever need it, at every Queensland Health facility cannot be guaranteed when this failing application is being used.
In short, Queensland taxpayers lives have most likely been at risk and been in potential jeopardy from the moment they switched this application on.
I wonder what it will take. Will it take strike action, will it take a class action by the Queensland Health staff whose pays have been affected or will it take a class action by the people and the families whose lives have been ruined because when they needed critical medical attention most it simply was not available because the staff were not rostered to work that day as they should have been.
One of the most disturbing issues here is not the fact that a bad decision was made 5 years ago by a few well meaning public servants or the fact that the application as it exists today will never work properly, it is the fact that the current Deputy Premier and Minister for Health Paul Lucas does not have the wisdom or courage to change it now before someone loses their life.
In a statement made by the Deputy Premier yesterday Mr Lucas said "I have made it clear I take this matter very seriously,". Well Mr Lucas it is time for you to show the people of Queensland just how serious you take it because we are now not only talking about bungling peoples pay up any longer we are talking about peoples' lives. I would have thought myself that the money you will save by stopping this madness at this point would easily pay for this dangerous applications replacement if in fact we need such an application at all.
Further, Mr Lucas said that "This is part of going to a new pay system that will be better for everybody in the longer term but I apologise for any errors in the transition". Not good enough Mr Lucas, stuffing up peoples pay and costing people their lives should never be an acceptable part of going to a new pay system and if you think it is then maybe it is time for you to consider a new career path.
As well he also said "That's why I have made it clear to Queensland Health that they need to fix up any errors immediately". Still not good enough Mr Lucas.
It takes great courage and conviction to make the hard decisions but the people who make them are also the sort of people who become Premier some day.
It is time for you to do what the Taxpayers of Queensland pay you to do.
Make the hard decision and turn this application off before it is too late.