Royal College of Nurses hits back after Tory MP says nurses using food banks not managing money properly

Tory MP Lee Anderson (UK Parliament/PA) (PA Media)
Tory MP Lee Anderson (UK Parliament/PA) (PA Media)

Conservative MP Lee Anderson has been criticised after claiming nurses or anyone using a food bank while earning £30,000 a year was not managing money properly.

The Ashfield representative told Times Radio on Wednesday that staff who are currently striking had “something wrong with their finances” if they are resorting to such measures.

He said: “I heard some nonsense a few weeks back that nurses were actually stealing food off patients’ plates. I don’t believe it.

“Anybody earning 30 odd grand a year, which most nurses are, using food banks, then they’ve got something wrong with their own finances.”

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The Royal College of Nursing hit back at Mr Anderson, with a survey having found a quarter of hospitals had set up food banks for nurses.

A spokesman told HuffPost UK: “Comments like this show a total disconnect with the reality for the tens of thousands of nurses who have been forced out in the cold onto picket lines fighting for fair pay.

“These comments will only embolden those who will do the same again in January after a decade of real terms pay cuts has left them effectively working one day a week for free.”

Staff in hospitals are leaving in droves, according to a survey by NHS Providers - which found they were attracted to superior income opportunities available in hospitality and retail.

The College of Nursing spokesman added: “The prime minister and health secretary can fix this now by agreeing to talks about pay instead of the continued unhelpful rhetoric.”

Mr Anderson was named Backbencher of the Year by the Conservative Home website. The Tory faithful platform commended his refusal to watch England games where players knelt before games in an anti-racist gesture, adding: “He has blunt views on Brexit, travellers and poverty”.

He is known for his outspoken views from the Tory back benches. He was in the news for the wrong reasons in the run-up to the 2019 election when the Daily Mail followed him on the campaign trail. The then Nottinghamshire seat candidate was found to have got a friend to pose as a supportive voter for a video apparently taken at random.

Labour has criticised the perspective of Mr Anderson, who earns more than £80,000 for his role plus expenses.

Jonathan Brash, Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Hartlepool, added: “The Conservative strategy for explaining the state of our country is to blame nurses, blame Putin, blame anyone but themselves. They’re petulant children no longer fit to govern.”