West Suffolk Hospital paid staff ‘off the books’

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West Suffolk Hospital NHS Trust has defended its decision to pay some of its staff ‘off the books’.

In August last year the chief executive of the NHS Sir David Nicholson, said staff employed for more than six months should be paid through PAYE.

It followed revelations that some civil servants were being paid through companies so they could pay lower taxes.

Now a Freedom of Information request has revealed that West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds, has paid 35 people off payroll in the last two years.

Twenty one of these had not declared to the hospital that they were responsible for their own tax arrangments.

And one of them had been paid off the books for 10 years.

A hospital spokeswoman said the individual had been employed periodically on an ad hoc basis and was no longer with the hospital.

The hospital employs f 2,500 full time equivalent staff.

Jan Bloomfield, executive director of workforce and communications at the hospital, said: “We have a duty to get best value for money and employ substantive staff wherever possible.

“However, there are occasions when we may need to bring in people outside of our normal payroll.

“This includes some agency and locum staff, which we have used to deliver safe, effective services when we have been unable to recruit permanent staff.

“Our spending in this area is now reducing as we have appointed more substantive staff during recent months.

“Occasionally, we also need to bring in contractors with specific expertise to work on complex projects.

“As this is often short term work, it would not represent good value for money for us to employ someone permanently.

“We are currently looking at ways in which our processes for seeking assurances regarding tax and National Insurance payments could be improved.”