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Kent trusts overpaid staff by £3m over five years

Nurses and doctors at all four trusts in Kent have been overpaid by almost £3m since 2007, an investigation has revealed.

After looking into pay at each trust, BBC Radio Kent found that at least 2,389 staff had received some form of overpayment from payroll departments.

The trusts - Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells, East Kent, Dartford and Gravesham, and Medway - said all errors were pursued, with debt collection agencies used in some cases.

They have so far been able to retrieve around two-thirds of the money which was accidentally paid out between the financial years of 2007-08 and 2011-12.

In one case a consultant was given an extra £42,750, while another was overpaid by £33,800.

The investigation also revealed that 312 out of the 5,000 staff employed during 2010-11 at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells were overpaid by a total of £442,099. However, it has managed to recover £300,631 of this by arranging repayment plans with staff when an error occurred.

The trust has since adopted “a better system and a more diligent approach” to pay, something which a spokesman said had resulted in a significant reduction in its overpayments.

 

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Readers' comments (10)

  • This could not have been put out into the public forum at a better time, I am currently in battle with one of these trusts from an overpayment nearly 1 year ago, they want it back within a certain time frame at a rate I cannot afford and have thus far ignored the fact it was THEIR mess that caused it in the first place....robust systems in place? I don't think so! They had all relevant paperwork well in time and chose not to log it!!!!

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  • I have every sympathy for the above writer. I is the Trusts fault that this mistake has been made & which of us actually checks our pay slip to the last penny? I must admit I only check that I have all my hours & overtime paid for! The Trusts need to a bit more understanding and give more time for the money to be paid back.

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  • I agree with the two comments above. it sounds like passing the buck and the blame onto somebody else for the errors and shortfalls of the staff in the salaries dept. of the trust. it should be brought to the attention of management at a higher level otherwise they get away with it and problems just continue and worsen.

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  • Thank you, the people I am dealing with at the trust have all but called me a liar and sent me letters/emails threatening "counterfraud"...I contacted the pay dept. when I thought I had more than I was owed but was told whatever I had is what I was due, with internal rotations and the confusing state of the payslips is it any wonder I just took that as the truth! I am almost willing them to take me to court over this as I know that I offered a fair, affordable (just) amount. I hate debt and had they told me the truth last year they could have saved me all the tears and distress that they have. Do you think it is worth writing to the chief exec and giving it to them from the reality of how this being dealt with? It's actually made me quite ill :( xxxx

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  • Anonymous | 6-Apr-2013 1:58 pm

    sounds as though legal advice might be helpful. if you are an RCN member they offer a short time free for what it is worth. other advisory services i have tried to use there were useless though. do you have any friends who can advise you?

    by rights you should be able to complain to the chief exec. but knowing the current set up they may support the side of the trust and make matters worse for you. sadly, it seems you need to tread carefully.

    i am sure i don't need to remind you of the importance of documenting and keeping records of absolutely everything as evidence.

    I wish you well and understand how such stress can cause great anxiety.

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  • I was also overpaid in one the trusts mentioned. I had cut my hours down but noticed that I had been paid for my old hours. I informed the salaries and wages department, and was told they could do nothing until being informed by management, so I would be overpaid the next month too. I spoke to my manager who said she had sent in the required forms for me in plenty of time, however I was overpaid for another two months before it was resolved. I then had to pay back all the extra money over a six month period. I am puzzled as to why it took so long and wonder if they are as likely to underpay as they are overpay - if so we had all be extra vigilant!


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  • To all those above threatened by this trust, let them take you to court ( oweing money is not a crime, won't appear on your CRB check) then offer to pay them back at a fiver a month ( bring proof of bills for utility etc), any order has to be reasonable ( to take the case where the consultant was overpaid by £40 grand, he won't have to pay it back in one go, no way) especially if it was their mistake that you had pointed out to them.
    As for the debt collection agencies, don't open your door to them. They CANNOT enter your house or seize possessions unless you let them in! Talk to them through the letter box, don't open the door, and tell them to sling their hook. The law is on your side here! If they try to come in by force call the police or set your dog on them, they are breaking and entering. There are loads of sites on the web that will tell you what powers these firms have, and it is very little, so don't be scared.

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  • Anonymous | 6-Apr-2013 1:58 pm

    They may claim to have overpaid you, but the truth is that they could never pay you what you are worth. Don't be ground down by these people.

    Get some advice from your union or CAB. In my last job, we supported people with long term health conditions. Many of them had lost jobs/income and debt was a common problem. Seriously, the Citizens Advice Bureau financial advisors were terrific. They gave good, sound advice and very often negotiated sensible payment schedules. One thing I did learn was that big organisations generally act in a bullying manner and demand unrealistic payment arrangements, but the CAB advisors were excellent at dealing with them and putting them in their place. The facts are that this was the Trust's error and if you are paying something back regularly, there is little that they can do to you. Phone and make an appointment with your local CAB Financial advisor. Good luck and please let us know how you get on.

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  • For goodness sake - contact your union! Whether it is the RCN/GMB/Unison, CONTACT THEM NOW. Unions vary from district to district. RCN and Unison are useless where I live, I am in the GMB and they are brilliant.
    I had an overpayment way back in 2003, it wasn't an enormous amount, but it was totally the Trust's mismanagement. They started their bullying tactics, but the local GMB union office took over and I never heard another thing. I have now moved on from this trust.
    Any nurse of whatever grade who is not in a union at a time when nurses especially are collectively taking the blame for the failings of poor NHS management needs to have their heads examined. I agree with all the other advice given above esp with regard to the thuggish "baliffs" who can only enter premises with a police officer present - and CAB in my area now only have online advice as they are too busy and under this ConDem government have had supplementary funding slashed nationally - but really you should go to a union with good support locally and challenge them to take up your grievance. If you can get a few more people together then do it collectively, it carries more kudos. It is something any good trade union office would relish. They can then represent you collectively, and you should get no more threatening letters, etc, as it should all go to the union. And your repayments should be affordable and leave you with enough to manage as you did before THEY mucked up.
    Look up/google the Carillion case that GMB Officers have handled in my area, it has opened up an enormous can of worms including corruption, blacklisting and bullying that the trust have had to address. It is only by sticking together that we can change the terrible track that the NHS is heading down. GOOD LUCK!

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  • PS - addendum to above - the GMB use Thompsons Solicitors who can take over these type of cases. They are specialists in employment/union/social welfare law. I don't know who Unison or the RCN use. You should be entitled to free legal advice when you join a union, you certainly will if you join the GMB.

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