Virus crisis panic buyers were told they “should be ashamed” for causing needless shortages for NHS staff as the retail industry insisted there was enough food for everyone and the government ruled out rationing.
Environment secretary George Eustice claimed there was no shortage of food in the country amid the coronavirus pandemic, with manufacturers having increased production by 50%.
At the daily Downing Street press conference, NHS England national medical director Stephen Powis said the country should be ashamed that key medical staff were left unable to buy food at the end of their shifts.
Eustice said that people buying more than they needed meant key NHS workers fighting the disease were faced with empty shelves when they tried to shop.
He said the message to the public was: “Be responsible when you shop and think of others.
“Buying more than you need means others may be left without. We all have a role to play in ensuring we all come through this together.”
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said there was “plenty of food” in the supply chain.
“The issue is around people and lorries, so getting that food right into the front line onto our shelves, which is why we’ve seen some shortages,” she said.
“There is a billion pounds’ more food in people’s houses than there was three weeks ago, so we should make sure we eat some of it.”
Powis referred to a video posted online by a critical care nurse in tears after she was unable to find anything to buy to eat at the end of her shift.
Please help us get this video seen by as many people as possible.
NHS staff like this brave woman cannot get the food they need, and something needs to be done about it urgently. pic.twitter.com/KH3kDYqD8t
— NHS Million (@NHSMillion) March 19, 2020
Many older people have also been unable to buy basic food items:
Had a little cry when I got back from the shops because I overheard an old man ask where the eggs were and he was told there weren’t any eggs and he looked at his list that just had eggs written on it in spider writing
— christianburtonsavidge (@ohchrissavidge) March 18, 2020
“Frankly we should all be ashamed that that has to happen. It is unacceptable. These are the very people we will all need to look after perhaps us or our loved ones in the weeks,” Powis said.
“It is critical that by not stockpiling, by not selfishly shopping, that our health workers are able to get access to what they need too.”
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