Epsom hospital

Pay black hole takes £2.2M Epsom Hospital funds


Epsom and St Helier Trust has set out how it is working to claw back £2.2million in salary overpayments. A board meeting of the trust heard that people continuing to be paid after they had left a role was one issue that had led to the outstanding money.

The Epsom and St Helier Trust board met on Friday (March 3) heard that there was “angst” against the trust when it was accused of “pushing people into hardship” when reclaiming money.

Meeting documents show that as of November 30, the trust had £2.2m of salary overpayments of which £798,000 had been invoiced for, and £382,000 was being repaid via agreed plans.

There was work being done with a payroll overpayments team and the HR department to look at £823,000 of outstanding overpayment money to make sure it could be recovered from people who were not responding or where the trust did not have a forwarding address.

Andrew Grimshaw, group chief finance officer, told the meeting that where the the trust was seeking contact or had had no contact with people who owed money was invariably people who had left and not been “terminated” on the system. He said the trust did agree an extended repayment plan with a lot of people to get overpayments back.

The “single most effective action” in stopping overpayments was terminating people on the system when they resigned from a role, he told the meeting. But he added: “A lot of the angst we see  is when we are accused of pushing people into hardship.”

An active review had been carried out to find out how many people were being paid who shouldn’t be, meaning a lot of new cases had been found. The meeting chair, Gillian Norton, said she knew the board was “sensitive” to the issue, and in the past had given “a very clear steer” on it.

She added: “It’s public money so we have a duty to recover it but we have to do it in a way that is compassionate.”
Derek Macallan, a non-executive director on the board, he was conscious of how hard it was to employ people and how many steps there were to new starters. He asked: “At the end of employment is there a black hole people go into and keep being paid?”

The chair of the Audit Committee, Peter Kane, responded that there had been improvements made but there was “still some way to go. We will be keeping our eyes on it, we’e not letting go of it despite the fact that improvements have been made.”

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