Why 100 complaints a day isn’t a bad thing

NEARLY 850 complaints from Queensland Health suppliers have been received in less than a fortnight, as consultants continue to tweak the State Government's trouble-prone hospital ordering system.

Health Minister Steven Miles yesterday admitted extra money had had to come out of hospital budgets to pay for extra staff to handle the troubled rollout, although he did not know how much.

The admission follows revelations in The Courier-Mail that system quirks and late payments to suppliers have seen hospitals blocked from ordering vital supplies since the August 1 rollout of the $135 million S/4HANA hospital ordering system.

Late-payment issues saw a hotline launched last month for suppliers to chase down bills.

Queensland Health has not revealed the total number of calls made but has reported it's received 842 calls in just the past eight business days, including 99 yesterday.

Mr Miles said the fact the phone line was still received about 100 calls a day two-and-a-half months after the rollout wasn't necessarily a bad thing, because on-the-spot payments could be made.

He suggested payment issues had been a problem even before S/4HANA.

"It's difficult to say how often suppliers would have experienced payment issues before the implementation of this system, so for the first time they have a centralised escalation process they can use to address concerns about their payments," Mr Miles said.

Meanwhile, consultants brought in were providing ongoing advice on how to improve, including fixing issues at distribution centres where 100 extra staff have been hired.

The new hospital ordering system, S/4HANA, is used or order everything from medication to food, to cleaning supplies.
The new hospital ordering system, S/4HANA, is used or order everything from medication to food, to cleaning supplies.

"Certainly I'm pleased Queensland Health have availed themselves of that external advice," Mr Miles said.

"Reports to me of the system suggest to me that it continues to improve day by day and week by week … (and) we will continue permanently to seek to improve our warehousing, logistics, distributions, supplies and supplier payment."

Mr Miles said the system was still meeting its most recent budget of $135 million, after earlier blowouts.

"In terms of any other additional costs, they will be met from within the operating budget for those centres," he said.

"Those costs are borne within the centres in with which those employees are employed, and it would be very difficult to collate that data."