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NHS staff in Wales given advice on accessing food banks

NHS staff in Wales given advice on accessing food banks

An NHS body in Wales has sent staff information on how to access a food bank as part of an organisation-wide email on ‘financial well-being support’.

The email was made public after an anonymous worker at NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership (NWSSP), which provides logistical support for healthcare services across the country, shared it with BBC Wales.

The staff member told the broadcaster: ‘I was sad that people were struggling so much that we were left with no other alternative option other than to go to the foodbanks.’

They added: ‘I was a bit incredulous as well that people would be left to suffer after giving so much of their time and energy to helping others.’

This comes only days after RCN Wales voted to ballot its members on whether to proceed with industrial action following the announcement of a 4% pay rise for nurses on Agenda for Change contracts.

With inflation climbing to 40-year highs of 9.4%, the latest pay award has been widely denounced as a real-terms cut which will not help nurses already struggling under the pressure of the cost-of-living crisis. 

Nicky Hughes, associate director for RCN Wales said that ‘the pay award announced by the Welsh Government for NHS staff last week is disgraceful.

‘This award has gone no way to addressing the 1719 registered nurse vacancies that we have in Wales or the retention crisis that the NHS is facing. This is affecting the ability of nurses to provide safe care for patients.

‘They are having to make decisions about whether to fill their car with fuel to undertake the safety critical roles they are employed to do, and they love, to whether they are able to put food on the table for their family.’

The email, sent with the title ‘Financial well-being support’, told staff that ‘things are difficult for many of us, with the ongoing cost of living crisis’, according to BBC Wales.

It shared money saving tips for parents and information about the Money Helper advice website, as well as links to information about ‘how to access a foodbank’ and a service for locating them.

Hugh McDyer, head of health at the Unison Cymru Wales union, told the BBC that the contents of this email came as ‘no surprise’.

He added that while the message may have been ‘well intentioned’, it was a ‘sad day when our members are having to make choices to heat or eat or go to a food bank to ensure their family does eat’.

A Spokesperson for NWSSP said: ‘At NWSSP we recognise the incredible hard work, commitment and dedication that our staff undertake on a day to day basis. We are prioritising and supporting our staff through the cost of living crisis and is something that NWSSP discusses regularly in partnership with our Trade Union colleagues.

‘A health and well-being themed internal communication was circulated to NWSSP staff on 13 July 2022, in response to a series of questions from our staff.  This communication contained factual information that signposted staff to a number of organisations that provide advice and support, including debt support, summer holiday childcare, free school meals, cheap summer holidays, and tools and resources to help manage finances. This also included a minor reference about how to access a foodbank.

‘The communication was not intended to cause offence but rather to communicate the wide range of support on offer to NHS staff, their family, friends and contacts.’