Supporting the financially vulnerable during COVID-19 (Wagestream and Earnd)

Trusts are rapidly introducing technology that allows staff to draw down a proportion of their pay on a daily basis to support those whose households have become financially vulnerable because of the pandemic.

Wagestream and Earnd are among the providers that have offered their services to the NHS for free since the COVID-19 outbreak, to help ease financial anxiety among the overstretched workforce.

So far, seven trusts are working with Earnd — an app provided by financial tech company Greensill, which allows staff to draw down a portion of their pay immediately after a shift.

The former chief executive of the Northern Care Alliance NHS group, Sir David Dalton, has endorsed the technology, saying it would reduce trusts’ reliance on agency staff, while “bolstering” staff morale during the pandemic.

He told HSJ: “If these organisations and the NHS could get it right, it would be something that would help recruitment and get people away from agency and onto the books of NHS trusts themselves, if they knew they could be paid straight after they have done an extra shift.”

He added: “Many NHS staff will be sick in the coming months and those who are well will be stretched to the maximum.

“All staff will face huge challenges, none more so than low-banded staff. With variable supply of essential household goods, having cash at the right moment will be more important than it’s ever been and for trusts who pursue the pay scheme, it can be a further ingredient to bolster morale.”

Wagestream — a similar service which is already used by at least three NHS trusts — has waived fees for NHS employers and staff during the pandemic.  It has also fast tracked the implementation of its software, which can now be up and running in NHS organisations in 24 hours, rather than three weeks. Some trusts using this technology have also lifted a cap on the number of times staff can call down their wages in a month during the pandemic.

Wagestream chief executive and co-founder Peter Briffett said: “We’ve all got to do our bit during this crisis, and we find ourselves able to provide NHS workers and employers with a service that is a uniquely invaluable weapon right now.

“Everybody faces unbearable uncertainty at the moment and this misery will be compounded by unexpected expenses. We’re waiving all fees to ensure these vital workers can get at their pay when they need it.”