RCN calls on supermarkets to provide ‘priority access’ to health and care workers

Many nurses say they are unable to buy even the most basic foods.

Matt Bodell
23 March 2020

Supermarkets have been asked to provide priority access to those working in health and care.

The Royal College of Nursing is asking supermarkets to make sure nursing staff can get the basic necessities they need so they can keep on caring for patients as the Coronavirus pandemic continues.


In a letter to supermarket CEOs, the RCN says nurses are being faced with empty shelves and unable to buy even the most basic foods to see them through.

The RCN is calling on supermarkets to provide priority access to those working in health and care and to hold back certain items like toilet paper for all nursing staff.

The letter follows the concerns of many nursing staff that they won’t be able to get healthy food for themselves or their families when so many are working long, demanding shifts to care for people affected by Covid-19, and so-called ‘panic buying’ continues.

One critical care nurse made headlines when she recorded a heart-breaking video in her car explaining that after a 48 hour shift in hospital she found supermarket shelves bare, and she was worried she’d be able to stay healthy in these challenging times.


Faced with empty shelves

Part of the open letter reads; “This week, you will have seen the heart-breaking footage of a distressed critical care nurse who, upon finishing her shift, was unable to buy basic food necessities. Sadly, her experience is far from unique.

“All over the UK, health and care professionals are being faced with empty shelves and are unable to buy necessary supplies for their households and dependants.

“On behalf of nursing staff and our members, we are writing to food retailers to take action and allow key workers to gain priority access to their store and goods.”

They add; “Day and night our frontline staff work tirelessly to ensure the health and wellbeing of our country and we must do all that we can to support them in their efforts.


“In times such as these, it is now more important than ever that we look after and support one another.”

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