Hospitals set up food banks for staff struggling with the cost-of-living crisis

Hospitals across the country have set up food banks and offer emergency loans as health officials warn staff are “struggling to feed their families”.

Six NHS trusts have set up food banks or launched food voucher schemes for workers as part of efforts to help staff cope with rising living costs, while others have confirmed they are considering relocating.

Some hospitals have also started offering emergency loans to help staff who are under financial pressure, while others have increased payments to workers relative to their travel expenses.

Cavell Nurses’ Trust, which supports British nurses, midwives and health assistants in financial crisis, told The independent it had seen a 140 percent increase in the number of people seeking help in the first four months of 2022 compared to the same period in 2021.

Graham Revie, chairman of the Royal College of Nursing’s (RCN) union committee, said staff were already kept out of pocket due to rising fuel prices, adding: “Now we see some people struggling to feed their families.”

It told Professor Alison Leary, chair of health care and workforce modeling at London South Bank University The independent: “I have been contacted by several NHS organizations who are very concerned about the impact of the cost of living on their staff. Some are looking at starting food exchanges or food banks, and others are looking at other ways to help, for example with the cost of transport. ”

It told Kate Jarman, director of corporate affairs at Milton Keynes University Hospital The independent the hospital had a few months ago set up a communal kitchen to support staff who may have difficulty being able to afford to eat.

“We are also testing the delivery of welfare packages with food, hygiene and other essentials for staff who need discreet access to work,” she said, adding: “We will continue to talk to our staff about how we can best support them by increasing the cost of living and doing everything we can to help. “

A senior London source, whose trust plans to launch a food exchange program, said workers had also asked about clothing banks and clothing exchange.

They added: “We have also had an increase in staff who have been in a position where they can not afford rent and were in the challenging situation of having to move because they can not afford where they are. lives and can not afford to live in London.

“Then their job comes into play because they can not travel because it is so expensive. So we have seen an increase in staff trying to access hospital accommodation, which is quite limited. There has been a slight push around hospitals trying to hold on to their staff housing. ”

Hospital staff turn to food banks run by their employers as the cost of living bites

(AFP via Getty)

In response to reports, Wes Streeting MP, shadow foreign minister for health and social care, said: “What kind of country have we become under the Conservatives where NHS workers, the heroes of the pandemic that kept us all safe, can not afford food?

“The government’s response to the cost of living crisis is to cause further pain by raising taxes on working people, including hard – working NHS staff.

“Labor would put up to £ 600 back in people’s pockets by cutting the energy bill, paid with an unexpected tax on oil and gas companies.”

Trusts including the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust, Norfolk Community Health and Care, West Hertfordshire, Dartford and Gravesham have also recently set up staff food banks and food voucher services. Sheffield Teaching Hospitals set up a staff food bank in 2020, and University Hospitals Birmingham has had one for a number of years.

The CEO of a hospital in the Midlands said its distressed loan was already being taken out and confidence expected demand to rise.

In a board report this month, the Royal United Hospital’s Bath Foundation Trust said: “We already know that our staff is reaching out for financial support through unions and [the employee assistance programme] and that they use food banks. We also know that a number of our nursing staff have already received grants from the Cavell Trust. That is why it is imperative that we take swift action to support all our employees. “

As part of its support plans, the trust has also committed to maintaining free parking spaces and providing food bank coupons.

Sir. Revie from RCN said: “This is an outrageous situation, and a big admission that the NHS knows how its workers are fighting while the government denies them fair pay.”

He added: “Thousands of nurses leave the profession every year and many cite pay as a reason.

“Ministers must take note of the realities of those they trusted during the pandemic and deliver a fair wage increase, otherwise even more carers will struggle to cope with the cost of living and the number leaving the profession will continue to grow.”

Danny Mortimer, CEO of NHS Employers, said: “With inflation at a high level for 40 years and rising living costs, health care providers are obviously doing everything they can to help their staff and families through these difficult times.”

A government spokesman said: “We are incredibly grateful to all of our NHS staff and we acknowledge the pressure caused by the rising cost of living.”

“We are taking action worth over £ 22 billion in 2022-2023 to help households with the cost of energy and to ensure that people keep more of their money – including by cutting fuel taxes, raising the threshold where people start paying national insurance and lowering taxes for the lowest paid workers on Universal Credit so they can keep more of what they earn. “

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