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Union hits out after 1,500 NHS staff paid short - again

By Victoria O'Hara

Published 30/10/2015

A payroll glitch has left health workers angry and frustrated
A payroll glitch has left health workers angry and frustrated

Health workers across the Belfast Trust have been left "angered and frustrated" after a new payroll glitch affected the pay packets of almost 1,500 staff.

Unions have expressed fresh concerns about the payroll system after the latest in a number of problems affected staff across the Royal Victoria Hospital site.

Branding it "totally unacceptable", the staff - who were mainly nurses - were underpaid for work ranging from 30 minutes' work to 40 hours, the equivalent of a week's wages. The Trust confirmed that while staff received basic pay for October, additional wages for unsocial hours was not paid out.

They have insisted the matter would be resolved by Tuesday but calls have been made for assurances that this will not happen again.

This is the latest pay blunder staff have been hit with since the Business Services Organisation (BSO) took over the processing of health care salaries in March 2014. Ongoing problems, however, date back to October 2013. The latest problem was caused by a payroll feeder system.

In one previous case, incorrect national insurance contributions had been deducted from some people's pay packet.

Ray Rafferty of Unison, who works in the RVH, said that it is another example of how the service is not working properly.

"I know it is hoped that money owed will be in bank accounts by early next week but it is still another example of how the new computer system isn't working and how staff are being disadvantaged on an ongoing basis," he said.

"It is exceptionally hard for staff as they would have direct debits coming out of their account either on pay day or a few days later so there could be implications regarding that."

"The biggest concern for staff anytime this has happened is trying to rectify it and ensuring the correct payments go in.

"It is a nightmare trying to sort out and can go on for months."

Mr Rafferty said such situations can be "financially devastating" for staff.

"Here we are nearly two years after the new system was launched and there are still huge problems. We were promised this would be fixed, but how long will this go on and will we ever have a system fit for purpose?"

Former Lord Mayor of Belfast Nichola Mallon, who was contacted by a number of affected nurses, has now spoken to the Trust demanding to know what action is being taken to prevent this happening again.

"They are extremely angry that once again their pay has been messed up," she said.

The SDLP councillor added: "Healthcare staff are working long hours under stressful conditions and for them to have to try and sort out an error in pay in their own time is not acceptable."

A spokesman for the Belfast Trust said: "Belfast Health and Social Care Trust can confirm all staff received their basic pay and that it was their enhancements (additional payment for unsocial hours) that was affected.

"The number of Belfast Trust staff affected by the enhancements error was 1,459, they shall receive outstanding enhancement payments on Tuesday.

"The Enhancement payment error was caused by a software problem in one of the payroll feeder systems and not the payroll system itself.

"The Trust will engage with the system providers to investigate what has happened and to ensure there is no repeat in the November payroll.

"We would encourage staff to contact their line management if they have any concerns."

Belfast Telegraph

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