NHS trust calls debt recovery agencies on to overpaid staff

Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Partnership NHS Trust will use collection agencies to recoup money it is owed from former staff

A NHS trust is using debt recovery agencies to recoup money it overpaid to staff who have left the organisation. 

A computer error led to 316 employees at Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Partnership NHS Trust being overpaid last year by a total of £200,000.

The trust said affected staff who are still working for it have made arrangements to repay the difference.

But it added that debt recovery agencies have been contacted to deal with some staff who have left.

RCN West Midlands branch communications manager Tim Baggs said the college was not aware of any cases involving bailiffs and ‘would certainly not support their use as a first resort' to resolve such issues.

He added: ‘If you have been overpaid, our advice is always to try and avoid falling into a situation where bailiffs may knock on your door.

‘We expect employers to take care to ensure staff are paid accurately but most NHS contracts state that when mistakes are made staff are legally obliged to give the money back.’

Unison's North Staffordshire Community Health branch secretary Jenny Harvey said the union works hard with trust payroll departments to ensure repayment doesn’t lead to hardship for staff.

Trust finance director Jonathan Tringham said debts were referred to a collection agency only if staff who had left failed to respond to invoices they were sent.

The trust said it has written off more than £20,000 of the money it is owed in salary overpayments since last year.

RCN Direct receives between 90 and 120 calls every month from across the UK from nurses concerned about over or underpayment of salaries.

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