Queensland Health

Queensland Health is a department of the Government of Queensland which operates and administers the state's public health system. The Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Hon Dr Steven Miles is responsible for the department,[6] which consists of the Department of Health and 16 Hospital and Health Services.[1][7] Queensland Health had 83,700 employees and a budget of $18.3 billion (2018–2019).[4]

Queensland Health
Department overview
Formed1901 (1901)[1]
Headquarters33 Charlotte Street, Brisbane[2]
Employees83,700 (2016–2017)[3]
Annual budget$18.3 billion (2018–2019)[4]
Minister responsible
Department executive

In the mid-1940s Queensland was the first state in Australia to introduce free and universal public hospital treatment,[8][9] a policy that some other states followed. Citizens, residents and visitors may be elligible to be reimbursed for receiving health care in public hospitals across Australia through the Medicare scheme.


2005 restructure

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 or regional centre on the Southside remained independent entities or Districts in their own right.

From September 2008 the 20 health service districts were further reduced to 15. According to a Queensland Health media release, nine districts remain unchanged. They are: Central Queensland, Townsville, Mackay, Cairns, Torres Strait, Cape York, Mount Isa, Central West and South West Districts. Six new districts were created. They are:

  • 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 Statewide paediatric service.

Health Quality and Complaints Commission

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.

Payroll System Commission of Inquiry

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." [11]

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 will present its findings to the Premier on 31 July 2013.

Proposed abolishment

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.[12] The department was due to cease operations on 1 July 2012.[12]

In January 2012, more details of the reform plan were announced, with an emphasis on health care management to be done locally.[13] Bligh described the changes as the biggest decentralisation of the public sector in the state's history.[14] In March 2012, the ALP lost power in Queensland and the proposed abolition of Queensland Health did not eventuate.

2012 restructure

Following Queensland's agreement to participate in National Health Care Reform in 2011, an Australian Health Care Agreement was signed that required the creation of local hospital networks that would be directly funded by the Commonwealth.[15][16] In May 2012 legislation was introduced by the Honourable Lawrence Springbourg MP to formalise the conversion of the health districts created in the 2005 restructure to independent local Hospital and Health Services (HHSs).[17] Under the new arrangements the HHSs each have their own board to manage and oversee the operations of the HHS.[18] The boards are accountable to the Minister for Health, and a "system manager" [19] was established to provide oversight and support to each of the services. These changes became effective on 1 July 2012.


Queensland Health consists of the Department of Health and 16 Health and Hospital Services (HHSs).[7]

Health and Hospital Services

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.[1] There are 16 HHSs:


Jayant Patel scandal

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.[20]

In March 2005, Rob Messenger raised concerns with Patel's medical practices in the Queensland Parliament[21] after he was contacted by senior hospital nurse Toni Hoffman. 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.[20] A second inquiry known as the Davies Inquiry found that the Queensland Health district manager and the hospital's Director of Medical Services had mostly ignored more than 20 complaints regarding Patel.[20]

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.[21]

Payroll problems

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.[22] The WorkBrain/SAP was a new system which replaced the LATTICE system.[23] 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.[24] The State was advised that it could sue IBM for damages totaling $88M.[25] 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.[26]

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".[25]

See also


  1. "State of Queensland (Department of Health) Annual Report 2012-2013" (PDF). State of Queensland (Queensland Health). Retrieved 17 September 2014.
  2. "Contact us". State of Queensland (Queensland Health). Retrieved 9 August 2018.
  3. "2016-2017 Annual report - Department of Health" (PDF). State of Queensland (Queensland Health). Retrieved 24 August 2018.
  4. "2018-19 Budget". State of Queensland (Queensland Health). Retrieved 9 August 2018.
  5. "Director-General". State of Queensland (Queensland Health). Retrieved 17 September 2014.
  6. "Hon Dr Steven Miles". State of Queensland. Retrieved 24 August 2018.
  7. "About Hospital and Health Services". State of Queensland (Queensland Health). Retrieved 17 September 2014.
  8. "Free Hospital Treatment". The Worker. 56 (3051). Brisbane. 7 January 1946. p. 10. Retrieved 16 January 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  9. "Hospital Benefits Agreement Act of 1945 (10 Geo VI, No 2)". Australasian Legal Information Institute. Retrieved 16 January 2017.
  10. "About us". Health Quality and Complaints Commission. Retrieved 22 January 2012.
  11. http://www.healthpayrollinquiry.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0017/175013/Commissioners-remarks-directions-hearing-February-1-2013.pdf. Commissioner's directions hearing remarks.
  12. 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.
  13. "Bligh to kill off Queensland Health amid sweeping reforms". Brisbane Times. Fairfax Media. 21 January 2012. Retrieved 22 January 2012.
  14. "Health reforms dismissed as a panic move". Herald Sun. Herald and Weekly Times. 21 January 2012. Retrieved 22 January 2012.
  15. Australian Health Care Agreements Archived 3 August 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  16. National Healthcare Agreement 2011
  17. Health and Hospital Network and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2012 Archived 3 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  18. Hospital and Health Services Archived 10 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  19. Corporate Office transition to System Manager Archived 10 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  20. Healy, Judith (2011). Improving Health Care Safety and Quality: Reluctant Regulators. Farnham, England: Ashgate Publishing. p. 34. ISBN 0-7546-7644-7. Retrieved 22 January 2012.
  21. Amelia Bentley (1 July 2010). "'Totally inadequate': verdict split on Patel sentence". Brisbane Times. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 22 January 2012.
  22. "Bligh cancels overseas trip to fix payroll problems". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 20 April 2010. Retrieved 22 January 2012.
  23. Rosanne Barrett (22 April 2010). "Qld Health payroll debacle worsens". The Australian. News Limited. Retrieved 22 January 2012.
  24. Kym Agius (5 May 2010). "Qld Health payroll system in chaos: ASU". The Australian. News Limited. Retrieved 22 January 2012.
  25. "Queensland-Health-Payroll-System-Commission-of-Inquiry-Report" (PDF). State of Queensland. 31 July 2013. Retrieved 28 October 2017. pg216
  26. Chris O'Brien (23 November 2010). "More than $200m to fix health payroll system". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 22 January 2012.
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