NURSES and health care assistants in Darlington and County Durham have spoken of their relief after finding out they will be paid before Christmas this December.

Staff at County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust were furious last night after an email was circulated telling them they would not get their December pay before Christmas and they would not be able to appeal the decision.

But the trust has today confirmed it will pay staff on December 23 and apologised for a 'miscommunication'. 

One nurse said: "I think there will be a lot of relief for a lot of staff who were looking at a really bad financial situation.

"It will take a bit of a weight of people. It's really good news. I'm so pleased."

It is understood the change was being considered  because of the way bank holidays fall this December.

Christmas is on Friday, December 25, which means the Boxing Day bank holiday will not be until Monday, December 28. 

An email from pay roll to one nurse, which was widely circulated among staff and has been seen by the Northern Echo, says: “Unfortunately we are unable to accommodate an early payday in December due to how the bank holidays fall and the process which we have to run for the payroll.

“There are communications due to go out on Monday regarding the payday. There are no official avenues regarding complaints.

“We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.”  

The trust runs Darlington Memorial Hospital and the University Hospital of North Durham (UHND), as well as hospital in Bishop Auckland, Chester-le-Street, Sedgefield and Weardale and the Richardson Hospital in Barnard Castle.

A spokesperson for County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We were considering options for how we managed payment in December because of the way the bank holidays fall and we have internal and national processing dates which we need to comply with in terms of submitting data.

"Unfortunately, one of the options which was to pay after Christmas was shared with staff as an agreed decision.

"We have apologised for this miscommunication and confirmed with all colleagues that the December pay date will be Wednesday 23 December.”

Last night, nurses were furious after learning about the email. 

A frontline nurse, who is based in Durham, had described it as a "kick in the teeth".

She said:  “I don’t think I’ve seen them this angry before.

“A lot don’t know what they are going to do.

“I’ve worked here for 20 years and we have never had this before."

She added: “A lot of low band staff rely on it coming forward in December to afford to live.

“Some of the comments people were making were horrendous.

“I know health care assistants who have been to foodbanks.

“It’s a kick to the teeth. When covid came the staff in County Durham were absolutely phenomenal. They did everything they could and there was no resistance to leaving teams and setting up wards. They just did it."

“There are a lot of single parent nurses who are managing Christmas on one wage and it’s not easy at the best of times. This will tip a lot over the edge I think.”

She added: “The trust has done quite a lot to support staff, more than other trusts. It would be a shame to undo that by not changing this.”