Auditor general's report reveals issues at Eastern Health
Newfoundland and Labrador's auditor general has found problems with the Eastern Regional Health Authority, including issues with running deficits, as well as managing sick leave and overtime.
Terry Paddon released his latest report on Thursday, which looked at eight different government departments and agencies — and included 36 findings on the health authority.
The Eastern Health review was completed in December, and covered the time frame from April 1, 2011 to March 31, 2013.
In terms of monitoring its financial position, the report found that Eastern Health needed $74.9 million in additional funding from the province, and incurred an $8.3-million budget deficit — despite its approved budget increasing by 22 per cent over the past five years.
The report also found that during 2012, 132 individuals who were getting a salary from Eastern Health were also receiving a provincial government pension.
In fact, two of those people actually held two positions with the health authority while drawing a pension.
There was a lot of money spent to pay for physicians who took on a bigger workload because of vacancies at the authority.
The report states that one physician received $1,473,528 in additional workload payments over the course of about 11 years.
This work was related to a vacant position that the report says "the health authority had never advertised and does not intend to fill."
The report states that Eastern Health officials said the physician in question had the same workload as other physicians in this specialty who were employed by the authority.
The report also found that the classification of some management positions following the amalgamation of the health boards in the eastern region in 2005 didn't happen until 2013, meaning 123 employees were paid higher amounts for more than six years.
This was an additional cost in the range of $3.6 to $4.7 million, which also meant higher compensation benefits, including pension and severance.
The report points to problems with annual and paid leave, as well as sick leave, stating that there's a lack of oversight in proper approval and documentation, and that it's not being adequately monitored.
The report says the authority has recorded about $8.5 million in unused leave that has to be carried forward and used, or paid in subsequent years, which isn't consistent with collective agreements.
By March 31, 2013, 712 employees had taken annual or paid leave beyond what they were entitled to, which cost the authority $192,541.
And the report found that Eastern Health's sick-leave expense is about 20 per cent higher than that of the provincial government, in relative terms.
Callback overtime, when employees are called back to work outside of their regular shift hours, means that workers would receive a minimum three hours of overtime pay.
Yet the auditor general found that 48 per cent of the total callback overtime hours were not worked, costing the authority $1.7 million.