More than half of UK’s NHS Trusts and health boards providing or planning food banks for staff
More than half of NHS Trusts and Health Boards could be providing or planning to provide food banks for their staff, according to new research from NHS Charities Together.
In a 24-hour survey of NHS charities, who support every Trust and Health Board in the UK, 21 per cent said they already had an active food bank for their staff or are implementing one.
This was the response of seven out of 34 charities that took part in the survey.
Six out of these seven charities already have active food banks, three of which were newly opened between October and December last year.
These six estimate nearly 5,000 NHS staff are making use of the food banks on a monthly basis, including around 550 nurses. It comes as cost-of-living rises affect staff members.
A further 12 NHS charities, making up 35 per cent of responders, said they were exploring the possibility of a food bank in their Trust or Health Board.
In addition to foodbanks, 53 per cent of the surveyed charities said they were looking at other food support for staff, including voucher programmes, free breakfasts and subsidised meals in the canteen where employees can also bring their families.
The UK has a total of 234 NHS charities which provide extra support in every hospital and Health Board in the UK.
The survey was conducted over January 4 and 5.
Ellie Orton OBE, chief executive of NHS Charities Together, said: “As the cost of living escalates, like many employers NHS Trusts and the charities who support them are looking at ways to help staff through the crisis.
“But with pressures facing NHS workers already so extreme, it’s heartbreaking that some are having to resort to using food banks to get by.
“Right now hardship funds and support are the main topic of interest for NHS charities. Queries from our members range from the setting up of benevolent funds and access to travel bursaries, to the possibility of providing hot meal vouchers and other basic support, including food banks.
“As a sector we are proud to support the staff and patients of the NHS however we can, and sadly today that support is more important than ever.”
In July an email from NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership which sent staff information on how to access a food bank as part of an organisation-wide email on ‘financial well-being support’ was leaked.
Alongside money saving tips for parents on “surviving the school holidays”, and information about the Money Helper advice website, it linked to articles on how to access a food bank, and a service providing information on where to find them.
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