Qld Health bungle hits vital medical suppliers

 

QUEENSLAND Health is being forced to urgently launch a special phone hotline for complaints after its scandal-ridden ordering system left suppliers of vital medical goods out of pocket.

The Courier-Mail has revealed companies that supply goods to the state's hospitals aren't being paid on time, in the latest IT bungle to hit the department.

Queensland Health (QH) has been forced to launch a new phone hotline for vendors today to chase up payments after an influx of complaints.

It's understood the situation is so heated that some companies have complained directly to Health Minister Steven Miles's office and have refused to deal with the new system, instead demanding manual credit card payments.

It's the latest development seven weeks after the bungled rollout of the brand new, $135 million hospital purchasing system - S/4HANA.

The system is used to buy absolutely everything from medication, to medical supplies, equipment, and food.

Staff still say they are stuck reacting to stock shortages and deny official explanations that problems lie in the staff's inexperience in using the new system.

A leaked QH memo said staff should direct suppliers who contact them about invoices to the new phone number and email address from today.

"Suppliers will be able to contact the new Accounts Payable Service Desk form 9am-3pm Monday to Friday for information on the progress of their invoices or payments, or to escalate urgent payments where required," it says.

A QH insider said S/4HANA was still not functioning as intended with massive disruptions to the supply chain and finance components.

Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles (AAP Image/Dan Peled)
Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles (AAP Image/Dan Peled)

"Our suppliers are at the point of putting QH on credit hold," the source said.

"Hospitals are using corporate credit card for key purchases as invoices are not able to be paid as easily through S4.

"Life in the front line is a terrible grind of reacting to stock shortages as the happen.

"There are a variety of system problems that are causing this."

A QH statement confirmed some payments had been late, with one issue relating to invoices being submitted multiple times and those duplications clogging the system.

"We encourage vendors who have unpaid invoices to contact the newly created Accounts Payable Service team dedicated to processing invoices as quickly as possible," the statement said.

"Vendors can be confident that once they make contact with the team, payments will be fast-tracked, with some small invoices being paid on the spot."

Call centre staff would help vendors submit future invoices in the required format so they could be paid on time.

Queensland Health’s S/4HANA ordering system is used to order all hospital supplies.
Queensland Health’s S/4HANA ordering system is used to order all hospital supplies.

"Queensland Health remains committed to its suppliers and contractors and appreciates their patience working through this process," it said.

"Historically, late payments occur for a variety of reasons, including disputes over costs that are higher than initially quoted and non-compliant tax invoices."