NHS staff ordered to pay back Christmas bonuses given out in 'error'

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Bosses at Milton Keynes University Hospital have apologised after wrongly paying bonuses to staff, taxing them, then ordering them to pay back the full amount (Image: Buckinghamshire Live / Darren Pepe)
Bosses at Milton Keynes University Hospital have apologised after wrongly paying bonuses to staff, taxing them, then ordering them to pay back the full amount (Image: Buckinghamshire Live / Darren Pepe)

NHS bosses have asked staff to pay back a Christmas bonus paid to encourage more people to work night shifts.

The end-of-year payment was announced for workers at Milton Keynes University Hospital in a bid to incentivise staff to take up extra shifts amidst the current shortages.

But some of those who signed up were told on Christmas Eve that the decision was made in error, and have been ordered to pay it back, Bucks Live reports.

One-off payments of £150 to £300 were offered last year to staff willing to take on an extra five to 10 shifts ahead of Christmas.

NHS staff ordered to pay back Christmas bonuses given out in 'error' rriqudirriezinvStaff at the hospital have been left 'furious' by the error after being told to pay back the money (Buckinghamshire Live / Darren Pepe)

In a further insult, the bonuses were taxed... leaving some employees with just £60. But those who were paid it will still have to give back the full amount - ending up financially worse off than before.

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The error was made after some staff, who were not eligible for the bonus, were incorrectly told they were.

Livid staff have now complained to the hospital trust, which spent £3.7m employing agency nurses last year.

Joe Harrison, the CEO of Milton Keynes University Hospital NHS Trust, and Kate Jarman, director of corporate affairs, have both apologised and expressed their regret over the error.

Ms Jarman said on Twitter: "We’ve made a bit of a mess of an additional shift payment that’s affected a small number of people’s pay @MKHospital - if you’re affected you’ll already know. So so sorry this has happened. We are unpicking exactly how it did but it’s really upset and angered those affected completely understandably.

"Again, I am really sorry. It shouldn’t have happened. There’s a little bit more info in today’s weekly message but we are still trying to understand what happened and why. More info to come but just wanted to acknowledge it and apologise."

A hospital spokesperson added: “MKUH operated a scheme between July and December where staff working an additional five to 10 shifts over those months would receive either a £150 or £300 payment in their December wages.

"There were a number of clear conditions attached to this scheme because it was designed to encourage the uptake of hard-to-fill shifts.

“A small number of staff were informed that they may have received an additional payment in error as soon as the error was identified (immediately after the December payday).

NHS staff ordered to pay back Christmas bonuses given out in 'error'Milton Keynes University Hospital, where some staff have been told to pay back bonuses they were given 'in error' (Buckinghamshire Live / Darren Pepe)

"We know this has been upsetting for those staff who have been told they may be affected and are very sorry this has happened. We will remain in contact with those affected and will work to minimise any financial impact.”

Meanwhile, nurses across the country are preparing to strike again later this month amidst mounting concerns over low pay and staff shortages, which they say are jeopardising patients' safety.

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About 10,000 nurses with the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) will down tools on January 18 and 19 following action last month - the first taken in the RCN's 106-year history.

Ministers so far have rejected the RCN's bid for a 19 per cent pay rise, describing the figure as "not affordable".

Liam Ryder

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15.07.2024, 17:44 • Investigation