WRIGHTINGTON, Wigan and Leigh NHS Trust has paid out more than £120,000 to staff members who have been suspended over the last three years.

A Freedom of Information request submitted by the Local Democracy Reporting Service showed that breach of clinical guidelines, breach of code of conduct and breach of the dignity at work policy were the three key reasons for suspensions in Wigan.

Wigan and Leigh Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation trust had fewer than 18 suspensions between 2019 and 2022, with zero enforced so far this year, however paid out £121,799 in salaries to suspended staff over the three years. 

The Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundations Trust, which runs servcies across Salford, Oldham, Rochdale and Bury, had fewer than 10 suspended between 2021 and 2022, paying out £18,044.64 for salaries whilst they were suspended. 

Between 2019 and 2020 there were 17 suspensions at the NCA, costing the trust £251,312.75. This totals £269,357.39 over the three year period. 

The NCA failed to provide their reasons for suspension in order to protect the identity of the cohorts involved, citing an exemption under the Freedom of Information Act. Both trusts have seen a decrease in suspensions though in the last three years, something WWLFT have put down to a new disciplinary policy.

Alison Balson, director of workforce at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “We recognise the impact that suspension has on colleagues, and it is a neutral act to protect all parties whilst an investigation takes place. The trust’s disciplinary policy has been reviewed over the past 18 months to look at how we can best support our staff and determine the most appropriate course of action; this may mean adjustments to duties, or the area of work, are implemented, rather than suspension.

“The trust has also implemented processes aligned to the just and learning culture principles, which focuses on restorative justice principles and learning. These changes have significantly reduced the number of suspensions.”

Both hospital trusts did not give specifics to staff suspensions when the number was below 10 as there is a risk that individual staff members could be identified. According to NHS suspension policy, the ‘Incident Decision Tree’ has four key components: deliberate harm test, incapacity test, foresight test, and substitution test. 

Nicky Clarke, chief of people at Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We try to avoid staff suspension wherever possible, however where this is not an option we aim to deal with each case as quickly as possible allowing enough time to deal with each case in a thorough, sympathetic and appropriate way.”