Hospital bosses send bailiffs after their own staff


Hospital bosses are employing bailiffs to recover overpayments made to its own staff following a payroll bungle that meant 791 workers were overpaid.

Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust in Kent admitted this week that a mistake over wages meant that the workers had been overpaid more than £1.1m in the past three years.

Many of the overpayments were made to staff who had handed in their notice or changed their working hours, but kept being paid their full salary.

The Trust has managed to claim back £659,253 in overpayments made to the 791 workers, but are still owed £486,495 by a string of staff, including doctors, nurses and support workers.

The Trust, which employs 4,750 staff and runs the 512-bed Pembury Hospital in Tunbridge Wells and the 400-bed Maidstone Hospital, admitted that it was having to employ debt collectors to claw back some of the remaining cash.

Figures released this week show that the overpayments have been going on for three years, with £442,099 overpaid in 2010/11, £500,847 in 2011/12 and £202,802 in 2012/13.

Bosses blame the overpayments on payroll staff being told of changes to a member of staffs status – whether they had left the Trust or changed the hours they worked.

A spokesman said: “The trust arranges repayment plans with staff when an error has occurred, and monies are paid back immediately over an agreed period.”
A hospital source said that sending in the bailiffs to collect overpayments was ‘out of order’, adding: “It is totally out of order for the bailiffs to be called in to make right an error made by your employers.

“It is not right that you face the worry of being confronted on your doorstep by a debt collector – there must be easier ways to sort out repayments without resorting to this.”

Paul Bentley, the director of strategy and workforce at the Trust, said: “While all large employers face the practical prospect of salary overpayment, where employment changes and leavers are not notified before key payroll deadlines, the trust expect this to be minimised.

“Where it does occur, swift actions are taken to recover such overpayments.”


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