Nurses ‘breaking down in tears’ as stockpiling frenzy empties shelves

By Taz Ali, PA

Supermarkets are being urged to help support NHS staff who are “breaking down in tears” after being confronted by empty shelves.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) and Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association (HCSA) have written to supermarket bosses for urgent measures to help doctors and nurses who are struggling to buy essential groceries.

It comes after critical care nurse Dawn Bilbrough, from York, made a heartfelt plea for shoppers to stop stockpiling, in a video which circulated on social media on Thursday.

In the video, she is seen crying after visiting a supermarket following a 48-hour shift to find there were no fruit or vegetables.

“I just don’t know how I’m supposed to stay healthy,” she said.

“People are just stripping the shelves of basic foods.

“You just need to stop it, because there are people like me that are going to be looking after you when you’re at your lowest.”

Chief nursing officer for England, Ruth May, urged members of the public to play a part in the fight against Covid-19.

Ms May said: “There are many, many nurses like that critical care nurse last night who are working many hours.

“We’re asking all supermarkets to allow all of our healthcare workers easy access to buy their food and vegetables.”

The RCN is calling on supermarkets to provide priority access to those working in health and care, and to hold back certain items like toilet paper for all nursing staff.

Meanwhile, the HCSA has asked supermarkets to allow hospital staff to place orders for later collection, and to reserve delivery spots for key workers.

The HCSA said: “Pressure on supplies has seen doctors clocking off from long shifts breaking down in tears after being confronted by empty shelves or having home deliveries cancelled.”

Some supermarkets have already taken steps to ensure NHS staff are given priority access to stores.

They can visit large Tesco stores one hour before the usual opening time every Sunday from March 22, while Marks and Spencer is dedicating the first hour on Tuesdays and Fridays to emergency workers.