NHS workers turning to foodbanks

NHS workers on strike outside the Royal Lancaster Infirmary on Monday.
NHS workers on strike outside the Royal Lancaster Infirmary on Monday.
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NHS workers are struggling to make ends meet as some turn to foodbanks to cope with small pay packages.

Staff who put the needs of patients first can’t even afford to feed themselves or their families.

In particular domestic and catering workers have felt the pinch.

Jenny Martin, Unison Regional Organiser said: “There are many staff, particularly those working in domestic and catering roles that are earning below the living wage of £7.65 (The NHS minimum wage is £7.31) and are struggling to make ends meet, some of the staff are attending foodbanks.”

A survey by Unison reveals one in five NHS workers need more than one job, with some working up to 26 extra hours a week.

Nearly six out of ten members who responded said they had to rely on credit cards, with 41 per cent relying on friends and family, 37 per cent turning to bank loans and 13 per cent having to resort to pay day loans.

Christina McAnea, Unison Head of Health, said: “The Government is refusing to acknowledge that there is a real poverty problem affecting NHS workers.

“A demotivated, stressed workforce is bad for patients and bad for the NHS.

“In Britain today, we have NHS workers struggling to buy food, pay for their bills and who as a result fall into a cycle of debt and despair. Morale in the NHS is at an all time low.”

To qualify for help, families and individuals have to be referred to a foodbank by a professional care organisation, such as social services, probation service and Citizens Advice Bureau.

All churches, schools, Sure Start centres and doctors surgeries also have the ability to refer.

Cat Smith, Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Lancaster and Fleetwood, said the situation is totally unacceptable.

She said: “It is shocking that we have got people who are working hard turning up doing their hours and they are still not earning enough to feed themselves.

“In the Labour manifesto we want to deliver the minimum wage to £8 per hour. I think it is a step in the right direction.”

Deputy Chief Executive Aaron Cummins said: “Like all NHS organisations, we pay staff in line with nationally-agreed pay scales.

“We have a number of support options available for staff who are suffering financial difficulties.”

Eric Ollerenshaw MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood said: “Without knowing the individual circumstances it is very difficult to comment, however I would be happy to look into these cases if they wanted to contact me.

“Thanks to the Governments long term economic plan, the economy is showing signs of improvement, there is still a long way to go due to the unprecedented deficit that we inherited from the last Government, and as a result pay rises have had to be limited.”