21 October 2011
STAFF turnover at the National e-Health Transition Authority is “high” at 30 per cent per annum, its chief executive Peter Fleming has conceded, prompting “research” into the reasons.
Mr Fleming said employees were talented and working long and hard towards establishing the nation’s e-health record infrastucture for the benefit of all Australians, but it was difficult for him to have an opinion on morale.
“Turnover is reasonably high, yes. We’ve actually commissioned researchers to talk to our staff and understand the drivers behind that,” he told a late night sitting of Senate estimates this week.
“The research is in relation to the type of organisation – a transitional authority – and how it compares to other consulting groups, and in those terms it’s actually on par with what we see in the consulting industry.
“In terms of what we expect compared to, say, the IT industry, it’s probably significantly higher than we would want to see.”
In response to questions from new Victorian Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie, Mr Fleming said that while the findings were not yet in, “the verbal update I’ve received is that morale is actually quite high in the context of everything we’re working on”.
Senator McKenzie asked whether the NeHTA headquarters in Sydney had been subject to a NSW Workcover investigation, following complaints about workplace bullying.
Mr Fleming replied: “There was just recently a very brief investigation. I believe a Workcover officer came and had a talk to our head of personnel and I believe that issue was dealt with to (Workcover’s) satisfaction immediately.”
Putting her NeHTA’s director hat on, Health department secretary Jane Halton said the board had discussed the issue of staff turnover.
“In terms of board duties, we have a conversation with management quite regularly about what’s going on in terms of reasons for (an employee’s) exit,” Ms Halton said.
Senator McKenzie also asked if Mr Fleming was aware of a “steady stream of criticism directed at NeHTA and the Health department by local industry over their handling of IT and software tendering and contracting” over the past year.
He said there had “obviously been a number of comments in terms of the tendering process.
“All tenders around the PCEHR followed commonwealth guidelines, all had independent probity assessments,” he said.
As time to quiz Mr Fleming was limited to 10 minutes, Senator McKenzie said she would be putting “oodles of questions on notice”.