NHS Finance

04.05.20

NHS SBS remote working to ensure NHS salary payments unaffected

Across the UK our NHS staff are working heroically in the midst of Covid-19, including thousands of former healthcare professionals returning to the frontline, and the Payroll and Pensions Team at NHS Shared Business Services (NHS SBS) has responded to the significant uptick in demand despite remote working throughout April.

Processing new starters at a rate of around 500% greater than usual and ensuring hundreds of thousands of NHS workers continue to be paid as normal, the team have stepped up to the unprecedented challenges coronavirus has presented just as their frontline colleague have.

Managing the payroll of almost 400,000 employees across 90 different NHS organisations is no easy task under the best conditions, yet even despite Covid-19 forcing the NHS SBS workforce to operate from home, for the first time ever in April all 164 weekly and monthly payrolls were processed remotely.

Presenting additional challenges, problems with the national Electronic Staff Record (ESR) system, which is widely used across the NHS to process payroll, led to the platform only being available intermittently at the same time payments were due to processed – putting significant additional pressure on the team to ensure staff on the frontline had only to worry about their jobs, not receiving their pay.

READ MORE: NHS SBS helps support NHS efforts at home and abroad

But, the team responded, working out of hours and calling on resource from other teams to ensure cut off deadlines were met and there was no interruption to the pay of their NHS colleagues.

Alongside the usual demanding work, the NHS SBS team has also been supporting a national campaign by NHS Professionals aimed at attracting more healthcare professionals back into the service. The ‘Stand Up, Step Forward, Save Lives’ campaign aims to raise awareness of NHS Professionals’ COVID-19 Rapid Response service, which accelerates the bank registration process and moves qualified nurses, doctors and other healthcare professionals to the frontline as quickly as possible.

This has led to NHS SBS processing more than 4,000 new starters a week on behalf of NHS Professionals, compared with an average of around just 600 prior to the coronavirus outbreak.

Tasy Warn, Director of Employment Services at NHS SBS, said: “Our top priority these past few weeks has been about safeguarding our own employees, whilst implementing plans to ensure NHS workers on the frontline of the battle against COVID-19 continue to be paid as normal.

“Moving our entire payroll and pensions operation to 100% home working was enough of a challenge, but with the unavailability of ESR at a crucial time in the pay cycle – and the extra capacity needed to manage new NHS starters – processing all of April’s weekly and monthly payments accurately and on time has required a huge effort.

“More than ever it’s impossible not to be inspired by the work of NHS staff in hospitals up and down the country. The motivation for our team at NHS SBS is around ensuring that pay day is one less thing our NHS colleagues need to worry about.”

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