The CEO of Scottish Care, Donald Macaskill, is urging UK supermarkets to allow frontline care workers to stock up on essentials during dedicated shopping hours.
The big four supermarkets – Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Asda – as well as Marks & Spencer, have all introduced special opening hours for NHS staff to ensure they get the items they need as the coronavirus crisis continues.
But, so far, only Sainsbury’s and Asda have extended this to include social care workers.
Macaskill’s call for action came after he heard from a care worker who was turned away from a Morrisons store for not being a “real NHS staff member”.
Derek Barron, director of Care for Erskine, a Scottish charity caring for veterans, has also been told by Morrisons that he was not welcome to shop alongside NHS staff.
He tweeted: “Thank you @Morrisons #not having spent all day ensuring our 339 #veterans in our #carehomes are safe and well cared for, having taken new residents from hospital today I’ve just been told I can’t access early hours shopping – please reconsider your approach.”
Macaskill said: “Social care staff working in care homes, homecare and housing support are in the frontline in the national fight against coronavirus. It is a matter of dismay that many of our large supermarkets are turning care and hospice staff away during their projected shopping hours.”
“Acute NHS staff are the first to recognise that we are all working as one team in this effort – why cannot our retailers do the same?
“Tens of thousands of women and men are working long exhausting hours caring for some of our most vulnerable fellow citizens – they cannot do so on empty stomachs. I am calling on our supermarkets to urgently open their doors to the critical frontline social carers who are keeping our country going at this time.”
Asda had originally stated in a press release that will be “prioritising NHS workers in larger stores”.
But when contacted by Home Care Insight, Asda clarified that “care workers are welcome” to shop alongside NHS staff in larger stores every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8-9am.
A spokesperson said: “We know how important the work being done by all medical professionals is during this time, which is why they have always been welcome to shop with us during our priority shopping hours.’”
Marks & Spencer said that it is dedicating the first hour of trade to “NHS and emergency workers” on Tuesdays and Fridays, but didn’t confirm whether social care workers were included in this.
Tesco and Morrisons are yet to respond to Home Care Insight’s request for comment.