Trust behind Queen’s Hospital, Romford, pays more than £500k to suspended staff

Queen's Hospital

Queen's Hospital - Credit: Archant

Hundreds of thousands of pounds are spent every year on local NHS staff being suspended on full pay.

Figures obtained by a Freedom of Information request show Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospital Trust (BHRUT) has paid out more than half a million in salaries to suspended staff in the past three years.

In 2012 £167,935 was paid out to 21 employees while 2013 saw a dramatic increase with £207,834 paid to 20 staff members.

The figures for 2014 were obtained up until the end of September and show 20 suspended staff members have been paid a total of £194,158 so far.

With a quarter of 2014 unaccounted for this number is set to significantly exceed previous years.

Director of people and organisational development at BHRUT, Deborah Tarrant, said: “The number of suspensions needs to be related to the size and complexity of the organisation.

“As a trust with more than 6,000 employees this is not an unexpected number.”

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However, numbers obtained for another acute London trust, the Royal Free NHS Foundation Trust, show only £73,744 was paid to suspended staff in 2013, just over a third of the BHRUT total for the same year.

There is also an added cost of providing cover for the suspended staff which is not illustrated by these figures.

Ms Tarrant added: “We always seek alternatives to suspension as we recognise the personal and financial impact it can have.

“However our main priority is our patients.

“When allegations have been made against an employee we have a duty of care to our patients to act to maintain quality, safe care as well as a duty to our staff members to maintain a safe working environment.”

The chief executive of the Taxpayers Alliance, Jonathan Isaby, said: “The disciplinary system has to move quicker.

“Leaving people in limbo isn’t just unfair on them but costs taxpayers a significant sum, one we simply can’t afford as a country.

“The NHS needs all of its resources on the front line, and that means choosing whether to reinstate or fire staff in a far less protracted fashion.”

During the first nine months of last year a single employee was paid £35,742 and another individual received £30,797.

It is not clear from the figures whether they were suspended on full pay for the remainder of 2014.