HSE apologies for payroll issues that delayed payments to trainee doctors

Failure to pay non-consultant hospital doctors correctly is ‘exacerbating’ ongoing industrial relations dispute, IMO warns

The Health Service Executive has apologised for payroll issues that have led to delays in paying many young doctors in training.

The failure by hospitals to pay non-consultant hospital doctors (NCHDs) correctly is “exacerbating” their ongoing industrial relations dispute, the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) warned on Sunday.

The IMO said NCHDs around the country were encountering problems getting paid, or getting paid the correct amount, after they relocated to new hospitals as part of their training.

Every six months, large numbers of doctors in training move from one hospital to another and new interns come into the system. But because the HSE does not run a centralised payroll system, newly transferred staff often have to wait weeks to get paid correctly.


According to the IMO, some NCHDs are struggling to get paid, while others are being paid on the wrong scale or are not being paid for all hours worked.

“In the case of some new NCHDs, ‘not getting paid’ is their first experience of working with the HSE,” the union commented.

Despite the fact that they work in HSE or HSE-funded hospitals, each hospital runs its own payroll system. As a result, newly arriving NCHDs are treated as new employees and may be subject to emergency tax or delays in payment.

An NCHD who works at a Dublin hospital said no intern was paid in her hospital on the first payday, as per the hospital’s pay schedule.

“We were made to beg and involve before the HR dept would even confirm we would be paid at all,” she said on social media. “No one apologised. Bills went unpaid.”

Another NCHD, who graduated from medical school two years ago and is on her seventh job changeover, said she hadn’t been paid for five weeks.

The HSE said it was aware the changeover could lead to “processing issues” at local payroll level for many staff.

A spokeswoman said: “We would hope that any problems will be quickly rectified by hospital or HSE payroll teams and we sincerely apologise for the disruption this may cause to any of our staff members who may be affected.”

Prof Alan Irvine, president of the Irish Hospital Consultants Association, described the treatment of young doctors as “highly disrespectful and unprofessional”.

“It is also counterproductive. Their first experience with the health service tells them the employer cares little for their welfare. Their expectations are set low. They learn quickly and they leave.”

Dr John Cannon, chairman of the NCHD committee of the IMO, said the issue was an example of the lack of value and respect the system showed NCHDs.

“No effort is made to pay NCHDs immediately when the error is identified and they invariably have to wait until the next payroll run for any adjustments to be made, leaving them with no funds to pay for rent or living expenses.

“And this at a time when they have had to take on the expenses of moving to another part of the country, very often having to pay rent in two locations at the same time and moving themselves away from family.”

Earlier this summer, NCHDs in the IMO voted to take industrial action over working conditions and long hours.

About 5,000 doctors are in training across a range of hospital and healthcare facilities.

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen is Health Editor of The Irish Times