Hospitals have been set up across the country food banks and offer emergency “heavy” loans, as health officials warn that 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 an effort to help staff cope with rising cost of living, while others have confirmed they are considering the move.
Some hospitals have also started offering emergency loans to help staff who are under financial pressure, while others have increased payments to employees in relation to their travel expenses.
The Cavell Nursing Foundation, which supports nurses, midwives and paramedics in the UK amid the financial crisis, said The Independent in the first four months of 2022, the number of people seeking help increased by 140 percent compared to the same period in 2021.
Graham Revy, chairman of the Royal College of Nurses’ (RCN) union committee, said rising fuel prices were no longer giving staff, adding: “Now we see that some are struggling to feed their families.”
This was announced by Professor Alison Leary, Department of Health and Workforce Modeling at the University of South Bank London The Independent: “I have been approached by several NHS organizations that are very concerned about the impact of the cost of living on their staff. Some are looking at launching food exchanges or food banks, while others are looking for other ways to help, such as transport costs. ”
Kate Jarman, Director of Corporate Affairs, University of Milton Keynes Hospitaltold The Independent The hospital set up a shared kitchen a couple of months ago for support staff who may not be able to afford to eat.
“We also tested the provision of food, hygiene and other essentials packages for staff in need of restrained access at work,” she said, adding: “We will continue to talk to our staff about how best we can. can support them by increasing cost of livingand we do everything we can to help. “
One senior source in London, whose trust plans to launch a food exchange program, said workers also asked about clothing banks and clothing exchanges.
They added: “We have also increased the number of employees who find themselves in a situation where they cannot afford to rent, and find themselves in a difficult situation with the need to relocate because they cannot afford to relocate to where they live and cannot afford to live in London.
“Then their work comes into question because they can’t travel because it’s very expensive. So we are seeing an increase in staff trying to access the hospital, which is quite limited. There was a small push around the hospitals, trying to keep the housing of their staff. “
Responding to reports, MP Wes Street, the shadow secretary of state for health and social services, said: “What country have we become under conservatives where NHS workers, the heroes of the pandemic who protected us all in food safety, cannot afford it?
“The government’s response to the cost of living crisis is to inflict additional pain by raising taxes for working people, including hard-working NHS staff.
“Labor would return up to £ 600 in people’s pockets by cutting energy bills paid by an unexpected tax from 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 food banks for staff and voucher services. In 2020, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals set up a food bank for staff, and the University Hospitals of Birmingham for several years.
The CEO of a hospital in the Midlands said its loans in severe cases are already being taken, and confidence awaits growing demand.
In a report to this month’s board of the Royal United Hospitals Foundation, Bat Trust said: “We already know that our staff is seeking financial support through trade unions and [the employee assistance programme] and that they use food cans. We also know that a number of our nurses have already received grants from the Cavell Trust. That is why it is very important to take prompt measures to support all our employees. ”
As part of its support plans, the trust has also committed to maintaining free car parking and providing food vouchers.
Mr Revi of RCN said: “This is an outrageous state of affairs and a great recognition that the NHS knows how its workers are struggling, while the government is denying them fair pay.”
He added: “Thousands of nurses leave the profession every year, and many call salaries.
“Ministers must take note of and acknowledge the reality of those they relied on during the pandemic, and ensure fair wage growth, or even more nurses will struggle with the cost of living and the number of those leaving the profession will continue to grow. ”
The Department of Health and Social Welfare asked for comments.
Danny Mortimer, executive director of NHS Employers, said: “Given inflation, which is reaching a 40-year high and living costs are rising, health executives are certainly doing their best to help their employees and their families in these hard times ”.