Hospitals across the country have set up food banks and are offering emergency loans for “hardship cases” as health leaders warn that staff are “struggling to feed their families”.
Six NHS trusts have set up food banks or introduced employee food voucher schemes to help staff deal with rising living costs, while others have confirmed they are considering the move.
Some hospitals have also started offering emergency loans to help employees who are under financial pressure, while others have increased payments to employees for their travel expenses.
The Cavell Nurses’ Trust, which supports UK nurses, midwives and health workers during the financial crisis, said The Independent The number of people seeking help increased by 140 percent in the first four months of 2022 compared to the same period in 2021.
Graham Revie, Chair of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Union Committee, said staff were already being left out of pocket by rising fuel prices, adding: “Now we are seeing some struggling to support their families.”
Professor Alison Leary, Chair of Health and Workforce Modeling at London South Bank University, said The Independent: “I have been approached by several NHS organizations who are very concerned about the impact of the cost of living on their staff. Some are considering starting food exchanges or food banks, others are looking for other ways to help, such as with transportation costs.”
Kate Jarman, director of corporate affairs at Milton Keynes University Hospital, said The Independent The hospital had set up a communal kitchen a few months ago to support staff who may be struggling to afford food.
“We are also exploring providing social packs of groceries, toiletries and other essentials for employees in need that they can access discreetly at work,” she said, adding, “We will continue to speak to our employees about how we are helping them.” can best support the rising cost of living and are doing whatever we can to help.”
A senior source in London, whose Trust is planning to launch a food swap scheme, said workers had also asked about clothes banks and clothes swaps.
They added: “We’ve also had an increase in employees who were in a position where they couldn’t afford rent and who were in the challenging situation of having to relocate because they are where they are are, cannot afford to live and cannot afford to live in London.
“Then their job comes into question because they can’t travel because it’s so expensive. So we’ve seen an increase in staff trying to access hospital accommodation, which is quite limited. There was a bit of a nudge in hospitals trying to keep their staff quarters.”
Responding to reports Wes Streeting MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, said: “What a country we have become under the Conservatives where the NHS workers, the heroes of the pandemic who have kept us all safe, cannot afford food ?
“The Government’s response to the cost of living crisis is to inflict further pain by raising taxes on working people, including hard-working NHS workers.
“Workers would put up to £600 back in people’s pockets by reducing energy bills, which are paid for with a windfall 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 meal banks and meal voucher services for employees. Sheffield Teaching Hospitals set up a staff food bank in 2020 and University Hospitals Birmingham have had one for a number of years.
The CEO of a Midlands hospital said its hardship loans were already being drawn down and the trust expected demand to increase.
In this month’s board report, the Royal United Hospitals Bath Foundation Trust said: “We are already aware that our staff are seeking financial support through unions and unions [the employee assistance programme] and that they use food banks. We also know that some of our caregivers have already received grants from the Cavell Trust. It is therefore imperative that we take immediate action to support all of our employees.”
As part of its support plans, the Trust has also committed to maintaining free parking and providing food bank vouchers.
RCN’s Mr Revie said: “This is an outrageous state of affairs and a major admission 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 each year, many citing pay as a reason.
“Ministers need to take note and acknowledge the reality for those they have relied on during the pandemic and push through for a fair pay rise or more care workers will struggle to cover living expenses and the number doing the profession leaves will continue to increase. ”
The Department of Health and Social Care has been asked for comment.
Danny Mortimer, Chief Executive of NHS Employers, said: “With inflation hitting a 40-year high and the cost of living rising, it is natural for healthcare leaders to do whatever they can to help their staff and their families during these difficult times .”
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/hospitals-food-banks-crisis-cost-living-b2083779.html Hospitals are setting up food banks for employees struggling with the cost of living crisis