3,000 NHS Staff Waiting On Back Pay

Three thousand battling health workers in Swansea owed a fortune in back pay have told bosses: “We want it now.”Anger is mounting over continuing delays to money that they have earned but which is not being paid out.

Some staff say they were promised the cash would be handed over earlier this year, but have still to see it.

One hospital worker said: “Perhaps the next time managers are desperate to find someone to work a shift we should say “no” in protest.

“It is unfair and unjust.”

The row is over a re-banding of the pay structure. Thousands of staff are caught up in it, leaving them out of pocket and with bills to pay.

Trust bosses say they are doing what they can to catch up. But workers say that isn’t good enough.

Former nurse trainer Sue Holeman has already faced a three-year wait to be handed £1,000 in Sunday and bank holiday pay.

But the 48-year-old, from Smallwood Road, in Baglan, Port Talbot, who had to give up work because of cervical spondylosis – wear and tear of discs in the neck – claimed she has to wait a further year for the cash.

She said: “I couldn’t carry on working and had to retire on ill health on February 2, 2006, after nursing for 30 years.

“I have been phoning up the wages department to get my back pay but they say they are going to pay everyone working there first – but you’re talking about £1,000.

“I have been told I am going to be paid next year some time – it would make a great difference now as I’ve got a mortgage to cover.”

A Singleton hospital worker added: “How on earth has this been allowed to happen?

“I am owed just under £900. It might not seem like a fortune but when you are on a relatively low wage to start with and you have bills to pay, it can make a difference.”

Health chiefs say most people will be given the money by the end of September.

But they also can’t guarantee it will happen.

The Agenda for Change payment system, which was rolled out during 2004, was aimed at harmonising pay along with terms and conditions for all NHS workers other than doctors and very senior managers.

Government health departments, along with unions, were involved in the negotiations.

The aim of the pay structure is to offer equal pay for work of equal value.

Another Swansea NHS Trust worker, who has switched her post since the changes were rolled out, added: “I have been waiting since October 2004 for my back pay – it’s now coming up to October 2007.

“I’ve been told that because I have left my job it could be next year before I’m paid – it’s ridiculous.”

Geraint Evans, director of human resources at Swansea NHS Trust, said everything possible was being done to pay out the money.

He added: “Swansea NHS Trust is committed to paying Agenda for Change (A4C) pay arrears as quickly as we can, as we realise it is an important issue.

“We have updated processes and taken on extra staff to help speed things up.

“A4C arrears are an issue at many other health trusts, but Swansea NHS Trust’s overall performance in implementing A4C compares well.

“A4C has been an intricate and timeconsuming exercise, because of the high numbers of staff involved and the trust’s aim to match their jobs to the correct pay band as accurately as possible.

“This matching process has largely been completed, although it will always go on to some degree, as new people join or move to different jobs.

“We have already paid around 4,000 staff their arrears, and another 3,000 or so are waiting.

“However, the trust is committed to paying people who were assimilated before June 2007 by the end of next month.

“We anticipate the whole exercise will be completed long before October 2008,” he added.