'Tireless' hospital staff accrue more than £3m in untaken leave

James Paget Hospital

The James Paget University Hospital - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2019

Annual leave left untaken by hard-working staff at a Norfolk hospital trust totalled more than £3m, its director of finance has estimated. 

At the annual general meeting of the James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust on Wednesday evening, finance director Ed Taylor said: “We received additional specific funding to cover the costs of annual leave that was untaken by staff during the year.

“As you can imagine, there was a significant backlog of annual leave, as the staff worked tirelessly and were unable to take their usual holiday, and the cost of that is reflected in the accounts.”

Government funding of £2.2 million was required by the Gorleston-based trust to cover the cost of staff not taking their leave in 2020/21, but Mr Taylor clarified that this figure would have been in addition to a routine amount of annual leave which remained untaken within the trust’s policies and guidelines. 

He estimated therefore that the total value of unpaid annual leave would in fact have been in excess of £3m. 

An additional £0.9 million in government funding was provided to cover overtime payments and other leave pay.

Penny Carpenter.. Pic: Norfolk Conservatves.

Penny Carpenter.. Pic: Norfolk Conservatves. - Credit: Norfolk Conservatives

Norfolk County Council’s Conservative chairman Penny Carpenter asked whether staff were now taking their “well-earned” annual leave. 

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The trust’s chief executive Anna Hills responded: “We have been encouraging our staff to take their annual leave over the summer and to work with their colleagues so that everybody has the opportunity to take some time off and to have some real downtime. 

She said staff had been doing so, and added: “Obviously [we have been] making sure that we can still maintain our services safely while staff do have some time off.” 

Anna Davidson, new chairman of the James Paget University Hospital NHS Trust board of directors. Pic

Anna Davidson, chair of the board of directors of the James Paget University Hospitals Trust - Credit: Submitted by JPUH

Looking back on the last year, the trust’s chair Anna Davidson said: “The global pandemic presented the NHS both nationally and locally with an unprecedented challenge, which affected not only our community and of course our patients, but also our staff on both the professional and personal level.”

Ms Davidson gave the board of directors’ “heartfelt” thanks to “every single member of staff, for their commitment and passion to deliver safe and effective care, whatever the circumstances.”