Last week, the RCP wrote to a number of supermarket CEO's calling for additional measures and access for NHS and social care staff in light of COVID-19. The letter received acknowledgement from the British Trade Consortium (the trade body for supermarkets) as well as Sainsbury's and Aldi.
Over the weekend, the following announcements were made:
- Morrison's will open from 7am to 8am between Monday and Saturday for NHS workers alone
- Sainsbury's and Asda (larger stores) announced that they will reserve shopping hours at 8am to 9am every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for NHS and social care workers alongside elderly and vulnerable customers
- Every Sunday, all Tesco stores (except Express stores) will prioritise a browsing hour before checkouts open for NHS workers. Note however, they won't actually be able to purchase the food until the tills open
- Iceland will offer shopping to NHS staff only during the final hour of trading from Monday to Saturday
Like your employees, staff across the NHS and social care are working around the clock to manage COVID-19 and all its impacts. We know that you are working incredibly hard to feed the nation during this challenging period.
It has been great to see several supermarkets change their normal practice to ensure that older and the most vulnerable people have access to food and other essential supplies. As you have been saying, if everyone buys normally then shops and supply chains will be able to manage. Together we can get through the next few weeks and months.
With this in mind, I want to ask you to consider how you can support the NHS and social care workforce. You have a key role in keeping health and social care going, and several NHS staff have told us that they are finding it challenging to buy food. This is sometimes a result of you having to adapt your practices, such as reducing opening times and running special shopping hours for different members of society.
The impact of these necessary measures will be particularly felt by those doing shift work who may only be able to shop at certain times. We will really appreciate it if you are able to put in place additional measures for the NHS and social care workforce.
Professor Andrew Goddard
Royal College of Physicians
The above letter is addressed to the following UK supermarkets:
- British Retail Consortium