NHS overpayments: what’s the problem?

NHS overpayments: what’s the problem?

With increasing innovation and investment in technology, the NHS is currently in the throes of digital transformation, but could NHS overpayments be occurring? Ben Western of Selenity talks more.

The move to a paperless NHS has been well documented but so have the doubts around when it will happen. While many industry voices agree that the NHS needs to cut out paper, drive efficiencies and harness digital technology, there is a lack of consensus around when this will be achieved – estimations vary from 2020 to 2027.

However, it’s important to put this into context. As the nation’s single biggest employer, with 1.7 million workers across the UK, the NHS is the fifth-largest workforce in the world. With this size and scale comes a myriad of processes which all need to be automated and digitised, especially for back office functions such as HR and payroll.

Delving into digital processes

Streamlining HR and payroll workflows with accurate and auditable processes is a key part of the journey to a paperless NHS. With the launch of NHS Digital’s Internet First policy and the publication of its early guidance, transferring to cloud-based systems has become even more pertinent for NHS organisations. The move to public internet is about supporting the growing need for health professionals to work flexibly and remotely. In this case, when staff aren’t physically able to fill in forms or manually sign off paperwork, bottlenecks are created which can lead to payroll problems further down the line.

Delays, duplicate or lost forms can have a huge impact on an organisation’s bottom line and researchers from the London School of Economics estimate that up to £63 million a year is wasted in overpayments, because systems are failing to keep track of staff. With changes to salaries, new joiners, movers and leavers, it’s important that information is captured in real-time by the HR and payroll teams.

More functionality than a paper form

For HR teams manually managing recruitment and overtime paperwork this is a burden that consumes significant hours, drives up costs and reduces productivity. Increasingly NHS HR and payroll departments are looking to eliminate these obstacles.

Built around the organisation’s requirements and current approval process, e-Forms transform existing paper-based forms into easy and efficient processes – but they can also bring more functionality. By integrating with the existing Electronic Staff Record (ESR) information is automatically populated into the forms, significantly reducing the need for staff to manually enter data.

Important documentation such as offer letters, employment contracts, induction checklists and bank details can be completed digitally and immediately sent to the HR and payroll teams for processing. With full visibility of documentation, managers are able to track the progress of forms and reduce uncertainly.

Avoiding NHS overpayments

With a high level of demand across the country for healthcare professionals, NHS organisations regularly have additional shifts available for their staff. Manually managing this process and sorting through paper time sheets is time consuming for HR teams and can lead to errors in repayment. By implementing automated workflows for processes, HR teams are given real-time visibility of all outgoings and forms can be quickly authorised. E-Form solutions like GreenLight Workforce prevent lost paperwork which in turn reduces the number of duplicate forms that are submitted by staff and authorised by HR and payroll.

Given the overall size of the NHS workforce, even the smallest oversights in payroll accuracy can have a significant impact on the bottom line. With a need to deliver transformational change and ongoing efficiency gains, organisations need to continue their pursuit towards a paperless NHS. Harnessing technology will increase visibility and ensure accurate payments.

Ben Western
Senior Business Development Manager

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