Operating theatre staff at Edinburgh hospital angry over Christmas pay delay

Operating theatre staff at Edinburgh’s Western General Hospital have been left feeling “disrespected” as overtime pay is withheld this Christmas.

Tuesday, 24th December 2019, 9:50 am
Operating theatre staff at Edinburgh's Western General are upset as their overtime pay is witheld. Picture: TSPL

Staff who work in the operating theatre at the hospital have said that they have endured 18 hour shifts with skeleton staff, as well as working weekends in the run up to Christmas, only to find out that their overtime efforts would not be rewarded with the expected bumper holiday season pay packet.

Instead they will have to wait until January to be paid.

A member of the theatre department, who the Evening News is not naming, said that NHS Lothian payroll staff had claimed that their department had not signed off on the overtime worked by staff at the time of their deadline. However, this has been disputed by those at the hospital.

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Members of staff in the department face losing out on varying amounts with a range of between £200 and £800 on top of basic pay being mentioned.

They said: “It’s no wonder that so many healthcare staff turn to working for agencies who pay weekly and pay promptly and why nurses are among the ever increasing numbers turning up at food banks. No doubt all the managers that got involved in this and decided to do nothing will be at home with their feet up enjoying mulled wine and mince pies not caring or knowing whether they have ruined anyone’s Christmas and started their new year with hardship. This is an incredibly disappointing and disrespectful way to treat staff who are always being asked to do more with fewer resources and I feel that the public should know about this.”

They went on to explain the gruelling “Twilight shifts” that members of staff had worked before Christmas. Staff could work from 2pm in the afternoon right the way through to 8am the following morning.

They added: “The NHS always pay the December pay a little early to help with the extra financial burdens of Christmas. However, it soon became apparent that no one in the theatres department had been paid their unsocial hours, on call hours, extra weekend work or overtime. Many staff had undertaken ‘waiting list initiatives’ – elective weekend lists designed to reduce waiting list times. Staff work these as overtime at weekends or they wouldn’t happen at all. None of these hours were paid.”

Attempts were made by clinical leads in the theatre department to negotiate to pay the outstanding amounts but payroll have been described as “unwilling and obstructive”.

Susan Goldsmith, finance director, NHS Lothian, said:“If for any reason overtime payments have not been processed on time, then we would ask staff to contact their manager.”