Staff underpaid by Trust

Dolores Kelly.
Dolores Kelly.

Nurses and other hospital staff were short changed £18,000 by the Southern Health Trust in a glitch due to a new payment system.

The new system for hospital staff led to thousands of workers across the province being underpaid by more than £400k, however, the Southern Health Trust said it was confident the vast majority of its staff were paid correctly.

A spokesperson said: “The Trust paid out £14.8 million in salaries in March and to date we have identified approximately £18,000 of corrections which will be paid on 4 April.

“The Trust introduced the new pay system in December and has experienced a number of problems since its implementation, as would be expected in the early days of any new system implementation. However, the level of corrections made have remained at 1% or less each month of the Trust’s total pay bill.”

The payment shortfall has been branded as “totally unacceptable” by unions.

The criticism was made by Unison and the Royal College of Nursing after the trusts confirmed that staff – believed to be mostly nurses – had received incorrect payments.

Unison said employers had been warned on a number of occasions that incorrect salary payments and delays were occurring.

Anne Speed, lead negotiator on health for Unison Northern Ireland, said: “Current systems are intolerable and totally unacceptable and those responsible should take immediate steps to correct.”

Janice Smyth, director of the RCN said staff had been let down.

She commented: “The measures put in place and the response shows an absolute lack of respect or any understanding.”

SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly asked the Health Minister Edwin Poots in a written Assembly question to address the issue. He responded by saying it was an operational matter for consideration by HSC Trust management.