Hospitals set up food banks and emergency loans for nurses

RCN criticises the ‘outrageous state of affairs’ and demands fair pay for staff in recognition of their work and to help them cope with rising cost of living

RCN criticises the ‘outrageous state of affairs’ and demands fair pay for staff in recognition of their work and to help them cope with rising cost of living

Picture: Alamy

Hospitals are setting up food banks and offering emergency loans to help staff who are struggling to make ends meet as the cost of living soars.

Cavell Nurses’ Trust, which supports nurses in financial crisis, has reported a 140% rise in the number of people seeking help in the first four months of 2022, compared with the same period in 2021.

Trusts help nurses in financial need

Several NHS trusts have set up food banks or created food voucher schemes for workers, while others have confirmed they are considering the same, according to The Independent.

The trusts include Milton Keynes University Hospital, Norfolk and Suffolk, Norfolk Community Health and Care, West Hertfordshire Teaching Hospitals, and Dartford and Gravesham. University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust has been running a food bank for a number of years.

Some hospitals have also begun offering emergency loans to nursing staff.

Continuous dialogue with staff will highlight support required

A spokesperson for Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust said the food bank aimed to ‘support staff who may be struggling to afford increasing household costs including food and bills’.

They added: ‘We will keep talking to our staff about how best we can support them and will do everything we can to help.'

Milton Keynes University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust promoted its food bank on Twitter:

Trust highlights link between financial difficulty and poor mental health

Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust has committed to maintaining free parking and providing food vouchers. It has also increased its mileage rates from 45p per mile to 56p per mile, bringing it in line with NHS Staff Council guidelines.

In board papers this month the trust said a number of nursing staff have already received grants from Cavell Nurses’ Trust. It added that ‘two thirds of employees who are struggling financially report at least one sign of poor mental health that could affect their ability to function at work’.

Deliver a fair pay rise for nurses or many more will leave, RCN says

RCN trade union committee chair Graham Revie labelled the situation an ‘outrageous state of affairs’.

He added: ‘We already know many nursing staff are being left out of pocket with increased fuel prices and the cost of living crisis. Now we are seeing some struggling to feed their family.

‘Thousands of nurses are leaving the profession every year with many citing pay as a reason.

‘Ministers must take note and recognise the reality for those they relied on during the pandemic and should deliver a fair pay rise, or even more nursing staff will struggle to meet the cost of living and the number leaving the profession will continue to rise.’

The RCN recently launched a financial well-being website, which signposts members to financial support services. Since its launch it has been viewed more than 1,500 times a month, Nursing Standard understands.

Government outlines financial measures to help households

A government spokesperson said: ‘We are incredibly grateful to all our NHS staff and we recognise the pressures caused by the rising cost of living.

‘We are taking action worth more than £22 billion in 2022-23 to help households with the costs of energy and to ensure people keep more of their money – including by cutting fuel duty and raising the threshold at which people start to pay National Insurance.’

Further information

Visit the Cavell Nurses’ Trust website for help and advice

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