Coronavirus: Shop for Worthing Hospital NHS staff finishing shifts set up by volunteers

Volunteers have made sure hard-working NHS staff are able to stock up on essentials by organising a shop outside Worthing Hospital.

Volunteers manning the Worthing 'shopital'
Volunteers manning the Worthing 'shopital'

The ‘shopital’ was launched at the weekend selling Sainsbury’s goods from the Lyons Farm store to nurses, ambulance staff and doctors as they came off shift in the evening.

Tim Loughton, MP for East Worthing and Shoreham, said he started the initiative after receiving emails from NHS staff saying they were trying to shop after a long shift and were finding the supermarket shelves stripped of essentials and especially fresh fruit and vegetables.

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This has become a common situation in many stores across the country as the coronavirus has spread over the last few weeks.

MP Tim Loughton with Sainsbury's staff

After discussion with Western Sussex’s chief executive Dame Marianne Griffiths, Mr Loughton decided to get together a supply chain for NHS staff and bring the supermarket to Worthing Hospital rather than the other way round.

He said: “With NHS staff under particular pressure at the moment most people agree we need to be doing as much as we can to take the pressure of their job.

“Making sure they don’t have to scour the town for basic groceries after a long hard shift is a small part of that.”

The aim was to open all week but after Monday night the initiative may not be able to continue due to social distancing measures brought in by the Government.

Volunteers wore face masks and gloves as a precaution.

Items were sold at regular Sainsbury’s prices and volunteers were able to give everybody some extras free thanks to Truffles bakery, which donated all its surplus bread, the Amsterdam Pub in Shoreham which gave them all the vegetables it was unable to use and Southwick resident Mel Humphreys who made some cakes and flapjacks.

Mr Loughton said: “Most supermarkets have now put aside protected times for NHS staff first thing in the morning although in some cases that involves them mixing with older vulnerable customers. Many will also be busy getting their kids ready for school as key workers or clocking on for shifts themselves.”

He has asked Sainsbury’s if they can adapt their protected NHS staff opening times to cater for people who need to shop when they finish shifts in the evening.

The manager of the Lyons Farm Sainsbury’s ‘came up trumps’ and the MP described how the supermarket’s ‘fantastic team have gone out of their way to help’.

They identified a line of about 40 essential items including fresh fruit and vegetables such as potatoes, bananas and onions, as well as a god supply of toilet roll which was the most popular item on opening night.

He then asked his local councillors for volunteers and led by Lancing’s Andy MacGregor ‘they have been superb together with other offers of help’.

He added: “On the first night we had a team of ten helpers including a couple of the trustees of the hospital trust who also provided a card pay machine which meant we could keep transactions as contactless as possible.

“We were overwhelmed with the amount that Sainsbury’s had put aside for us and it filled three large cars. We lugged the stuff to the hospital and set up outside the entrance and officially opened at 8pm to cater for the day staff coming off shift.”