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NHSE now backing 1,300 staff who missed out on ‘covid bonus’

Published on: 4 Apr 2024

NHS England has now said it is supporting a trust in trying to pay 1,300 of its staff who missed out on the covid bonus due to a quirk of timing.

Earlier this week, NHSE confirmed it had turned down a business case to pay the so-called “backlog bonus” to the staff, who last year transferred from the outsourcing firm Serco, to Barts Health Trust, a month after the 31 March cut-off date to qualify. At the time, an NHSE spokesperson said the group “did not meet the qualifying criteria for this payment as decided by government”. 

However, NHSE today issued a new statement saying: “NHS England is working with Barts NHS Trust on next steps on their current proposal, which will require Treasury approval.”

Both Barts and NHSE have declined to give further details of their current proposal.

The bonus payment agreed under last year’s Agenda for Change negotiations was worth at least £1,655 for each individual. 

As HSJ reported yesterday, the facilities management staff were part of a larger cohort transferred to Barts’ employment when Serco handed back the contract. While some transferred before the 31 March cut-off, these 1,300 did not transfer until 1 May 2023 so were ineligible.

Barts directors recently told staff they had submitted a proposal to fund the bonus separately from normal pay arrangements, but NHSE had rejected it. They said it required the support of the NHSE accounting officer, CEO Amanda Pritchard, and “the NHSE executive team” was concerned such a move could set a precedent.

Unite members at Barts have held strike action on several days over the lack of the bonus payment, and the union has vowed to continue fighting for the money. Affected staff include porters, cleaners, and other facilities staff.

Barts has been asked to comment.