A Gympie nurse has lost her appeal against an internal Queensland Health review that found allegations of bullying and corrupt conduct conduct to be unsubstantiated.
A Gympie nurse has lost her appeal against an internal Queensland Health review that found allegations of bullying and corrupt conduct conduct to be unsubstantiated.

Nurse’s bullying claims shot down by industrial court

Queensland's industrial watchdog has thrown out a Gympie nurse's appeal against an internal Queensland Health review which dismissed allegations of bullying, coercion and corruption following a tussle over overpaid wages.

Susan Stanley had appealed the Sunshine Coast Health and Hospital Services' review after it was found she received several years of overpaid wages thanks to a contract which was altered after she had signed it and without her knowledge.

The form incorrectly identified Ms Stanley as accruing six weeks' annual leave every year instead of five, leading her to be paid a higher loading rate between June 2016 and September 2019.

During the negotiation process with SCHHS to resolve the matter, Ms Stanley alleged Acting Director of Nursing Deanne Mitchell bullied her by threatening to take all of her annual and long service leave as repayment, and that she had been "coerced" into signing a new agreement.

The review was launched after it was discovered the nurse had been overpaid for three years.
The review was launched after it was discovered the nurse had been overpaid for three years.

Following an internal review the SCHHS ultimately agreed to waive repayment, which it found was caused by an "administrative error", and allowed Ms Stanley to keep the money, and dismissed the bullying allegations as "not substantiated".

In her appeal Ms Stanley criticised the organisational review for not referring her complaint about the altered form to Ethical Standards or the Crime and Corruption Commission, and its dismissal of the bullying claim.

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However, her appeal was denied last month by Industrial Commissioner Samantha Pidgeon who found there was no evidence to back up Ms Stanley's claims.

"With regard to the issue of corrupt conduct, there is nothing in the material provided to me to indicate that anything fraudulent occurred with regard to the (altered) form," Ms Pidgeon said in her published decision.

SCHHS allowed the nurse to keep the overpaid wages as part of its final decision. Picture: iStock
SCHHS allowed the nurse to keep the overpaid wages as part of its final decision. Picture: iStock

"It is the case that on occasion, administrative errors will be made by those filling in and handling forms.

"Mistakes can happen."

Ms Pidgeon found there was "no evidence" to contradict the review's finding that Ms Stanley had not been "coerced" into signing a new form as part of the repayment process.

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With regard to the bullying allegation, Ms Pidgeon said there no reliable evidence that said Ms Mitchell even attended the meeting at which Ms Stanley said the acting nursing director made the claims.

"I have reviewed all of the evidence regarding the rosters, the attempts to negotiate the rosters and the contracted hours and hours worked by Ms Stanley and the decision to pay Ms Stanley for the 25 hours she did not work as she rejected the shifts SCHHS had offered," Ms Pidgeon said.

"The internal review decision regarding this concern was fair and reasonable."

Gympie Times


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