Care home staff are calling for a boycott of Tesco after they refused to allow them to shop there during the special NHS time slots.
Senior care practitioner Ria Roberts, a 34-year-single mum who works for the Pendine Park care organisation in Wrexham, blasted the “lack of respect” shown to them by the giant supermarket chains.
Ria says she and team are on the front line of the coronavirus crisis and are putting themselves at risk just like NHS workers.
It’s understood Morrisons have imposed a similar ban but she praised Sainsbury’s who have confirmed that care home staff are allowed to shop during the NHS hour in their stores.
She said: “I’m appalled that we are being treated this way by Tesco in Wrexham.
“Just like the people working in the NHS we are being exposed to the risks by working on the frontline in the war against the coronavirus.
“It’s ridiculous. All we want is a bit of time in the supermarket without the crowds to grab our bits and pieces before work.
“I am beyond anger. It’s so frustrating because we are all working hard and leaving our children and picking up extra shifts.
“We are doing anything and everything we can, exactly the same as the NHS and we are not given the same respect – nowhere near the same respect.
“We are dealing with people who have brain tumours subdural haematomas, vented patients. We are not dealing with someone who can’t make a cup of tea and a piece of toast. They are people with really, really complex needs.
“Everyone at Pendine is really trying hard. Infection control has been brilliant and in all fairness, everyone here is doing brilliantly. I couldn’t work with a better team. They are absolutely fantastic.
“All the staff have pulled together so well but they are so disheartened when they see we don’t get the respect the same has the NHS staff who we know are doing a brilliant job but so are we.
“I’m a single mother with a six-year-old daughter so it is really tough for me at the moment – it would be a massive help to be able to shop during that hour.
“We are not asking much. We are not asking for more money or this that and the other. All we are asking for is a bit leeway in the morning just to pick up some essentials for our families.
“You know some of our staff are working 13 and a half hours a day and then we are not allowed to pop in for a loaf of bread, it’s disgraceful.
“We are all on the front line, all of us. We’ve got the respect for the NHS and I’m sure they do for us but I just think Tesco needs to gain that respect as well.”
Highfield manager Tracey Smith added: “I think it’s extremely sad and disappointing that my staff who are coming out to work and struggling to get the shopping they need on their days off when other people are able to go at any time, and I just feel for them.
“My team does an important job. We’re also on the frontline, looking after vulnerable people. The staff are also putting themselves at risk the same as the NHS staff, and we’re trying to help and support the NHS in what we’re doing.
“We’ve had confirmation from Tesco that care home staff are not eligible to join NHS workers and we’re still trying to establish the position in relation to Morrisons but we’ve been told they’ve adopted a similar policy to Tesco.
“I used to shop at Tesco but I won’t be in future and I will be urging other people to boycott them as well any other supermarket behaving in such a reprehensible way.
“All credit to Sainsbury’s who haven’t behaved like that. They’ve seen the value of what social care practitioners do.”
It was a sentiment echoed by Pendine Park proprietor Mario Kreft MBE, who is also the chair of Care Forum Wales which represents around 500 independent care providers.
He said: “It’s a very sorry state of affairs. We have known for many years that the 1.6 million social care workers in the UK are largely seen by society as second rate to their colleagues in the NHS.
“Qt this time of unprecedented national crisis this view is being reinforced by supermarkets who are actually cashing in on the difficulties.
“The supermarkets and their shareholders are doing rather well but sadly they don’t’ value the huge contribution made to our communities and to our nation by this army of social care workers.
“When all this is over people will be able to reflect on who was treating who well and who was just making money out of this crisis.
“We all love and support the NHS and value its staff but we should never forget about the value to our community of the other social care workers, whether it’s keeping people safe in their own homes or whether it’s looking after profoundly unwell people with dementia in care homes.
“At Pendine, they’re the coronavirus warriors. They deserve every bit of support and if you can’t even allow them to shop while you’re making a fortune out of a crisis, it’s an indictment of the society we have. It’s something that surely has to change.”