The business capabilities of some commissioning support units are being compromised due to ongoing payroll problems related to the transition to the new NHS organisational structure, HSJ has learned.

The difficulties are affecting CSUs’ human resources functions, which are being burdened with extra work due to staff not being paid expenses, being put on the wrong tax codes and, in extreme cases, not getting their salaries paid.

CSU representatives are understood to have met NHS payroll provider McKesson in late July to attempt to understand and resolve the issue.

No-one on either the CSU side or at McKesson knows how many staff are affected or how much money is involved in total.

HSJ understands CSUs have been affected to varying degrees. The most severe instances have affected a high proportion of staff – for instance it is understood that in NHS South CSU staff were not paid the mileage expenses they were due, and some received none of the expense payments they were owed, leaving them hundreds of pounds out of pocket.

In moderate cases, around 10 per cent of the workforce have been affected, while other CSUs have not experienced any significant payroll difficulties in July.

Some of the problems – particularly where employees are on the wrong tax codes – are thought to have been caused by incorrect data on McKesson’s payroll system, rather than a system malfunction.

It is thought that the staff could have been placed on the wrong tax codes if their employment at a primary care trust was not terminated properly when PCTs were dissolved at the end of March.

A well placed CSU source said that payroll problems had been ongoing since the transition, but had got worse in July for some CSUs.

“The level of service is nowhere near what it should be,” the source told HSJ, saying a backlog of expenses queries had built up. “This is having a business impact on some CSUs”

“It’s frustrating for HR teams, because they have to monitor the position and support staff with queries, and get people paid quickly if they haven’t been paid. Our HR services were resourced to support customers – it’s put a heck of a burden on CSU HR teams, and it’s not great for staff morale.”

McKesson operate a payroll system for 1.3 million NHS staff, meaning the transfer of 8,800 CSU staff should not present a capacity problem. However they are understood to have committed more resource to solving the CSU payroll issue.

A McKesson spokesman attributed the difficulties to the complexity of the transition, and the fact that the CSU sector was still “bedding down”.

He said: “We continue to work very closely with our partners to do what needs to be done to resolve these issues as quickly as possible.

“It reflects the fact the transition was extremely complex.

“Organisational structures are still bedding down, people’s responsibilities are becoming clear, and people are working with new systems.”