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Coronavirus Kent: NHS workers urge supermarkets to extend dedicated opening hours

Under-pressure NHS staff are pleading to be given dedicated shopping slots as working on the frontline amid the coronavirus pandemic leaves them struggling to buy essential groceries.

As the coronavirus crisis continues, a surge in panic buying has forced supermarkets across Kent to introduce shopping hours exclusively for the elderly, to ensure they are able to buy the things they need.

Empty shelves in Waitrose, Canterbury
Empty shelves in Waitrose, Canterbury

But many staff working long hours to provide emergency care - as hospitals, ambulances and pharmacies face increased pressure - say they are unable to stock up on food and provisions, and are pleading to be included in dedicated shopping hours.

The situation prompted NHS worker Ruth Lambert to post in a Canterbury Facebook group: "Lots of local shops opening early for the elderly, which is fantastic. But could there maybe be something done for NHS workers?

"We often start work before the shops open and by the time we finish there is nothing left in the shops.

"We are working really really hard on the front line. We still need to eat (more than ever in fact) but are struggling to shop more than most!"

The idea has been backed by dozens of other hard-working NHS staff members, as well as civilians grateful for their efforts.

NHS employees say they are struggling to find time to buy essential groceries. Stock picture
NHS employees say they are struggling to find time to buy essential groceries. Stock picture

Sacha Alexander, an emergency care attendant at St John Ambulance, commented: "Totally agree, trying to get some shopping is a nightmare.

"I need to be here to get kids up for school but want to leave extra early so I can try and grab a few bits before work. Nothing left at the end of shift and if we have a shift overrun, shops are shut."

Charmaine McGarry, who works in the pharmacy at the Kent and Canterbury Hospital, says it is 6.45pm by the time she has travelled home by bus, by which time "there's nothing in the shops".

Ruth Mccolm said: "Yup my only day off and struggled to find the basics. Lovely staff in the stores though bless 'em."

Sarah Almond took a positive approach, saying the situation is "teaching me to be creative". "If there is nothing tonight, I will need to make a concoction out of cheese and limes," she wrote. "The cupboards are bare."

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