Wigan hospital staff pay price as gaffe led to them being overpaid

Wigan hospital workers have been told to hand back hundreds of pounds after an error led to them being overpaid.
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It has been discovered a mistake was made when some band one staff at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust were moved to band two as part of the NHS Agenda for Change pay deal.

Letters were sent to workers explaining that they had been given too much and the money had to be returned.

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Bosses have apologised for the mistake and say they “deeply regret” the impact it will have on staff at its sites, which include Wigan Infirmary, Wrightington Hospital and Leigh Infirmary.

They did not reveal how many people were affected when asked by the Observer.

It has come as a blow for healthcare workers, who have faced unprecedented pressure since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic last year.

One trust employee, who contacted the Observer anonymously, was told they had been overpaid from April 2020 to March 2021.

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They said: “This is the thanks we get after working through Covid without a day off.

“Two years ago they knew about this. Someone made a massive mistake paying the wrong rate.

“The average minimum people owe is £1,500 which is going to be stopped out of wages every month.

“Twelve months’ stressful, hard work, no pay rise yet and just to kick you when you’re down, a bill because someone couldn’t do their job.”

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The Agenda for Change three-year pay deal agreed in 2018 saw starting salaries increase across all pay bands, a new pay structure and new system of pay progression for NHS workers in England.

Band one was closed to new starters from December 2018 and staff already in band one jobs were to be upskilled to higher-paid band two roles.

But it was during this transition that the error occurred.

A trust spokesman said: “The national NHS 2018 Agenda for Change pay deal required existing band one staff to be moved to the higher paid band two before April 1, 2021.

“Unfortunately, an error with the transition process to the higher band resulted in some members of our workforce being overpaid.

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“The trust has a legal obligation to recover all overpayments of salary.

“The trust has communicated with all staff members who have been affected, apologising for the error and explaining that steps to recover the overpayment would have to be taken.

“To minimise the impact recovering the overpayment would have on staff members, a staged repayment plan has been agreed between the payroll and human resources departments, working in conjunction with union representatives.

“The repayment plan commenced for some staff affected in April 2021 and for others their repayment plan will commence in October 2021.

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“The trust recognises the massive contribution all staff have give to the NHS and deeply regrets the impact of this error.

“The trust continues to support the financial well-being of all our staff and would encourage any staff member with concerns or queries to discuss them further with the payroll department.”

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