NHS boss says coronavirus panic-buyers ‘should all be ashamed’ for leaving medics without food – The Sun

A TOP NHS official has slammed people panic-buying to stockpile amid the coronavirus crisis and leaving overworked medics without food.

NHS England national medical director Stephen Powis said panic buyers were depriving NHS staff of the supplies they need, adding: “Frankly we should all be ashamed.”

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This week has seen queues outside supermarkets and many shelves stripped bare amid concerns about a lockdown brought on by the outbreak.

"I would like to make a plea on behalf of all my colleagues in the NHS, nurses, doctors, paramedics and many, many others who are working incredibly hard at the moment to manage this outbreak of coronavirus," said Powis.

"It's incredibly important that they too have access to food, to those essential supplies that they need."

He went on to reference a video that went viral this week showing a critical care nurse in tears outside a supermarket because she had been unable to buy any fresh fruit or vegetables.


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"Frankly we should all be ashamed that that has to happen – it's unacceptable," he said.

"These are the very people that we all need to look after perhaps us or our loved ones in the weeks to come."

The UK currently has almost 4,100 cases of the coronavirus and at least 178 people confirmed to have died, but both figures are set to rise in the coming weeks.

Concerns have been raised about the impact the epidemic will have on the health service as it reaches its peak, and particularly on the medical staff who will be left with thousands of additional patients to treat.

Commenting on the recent surge, Environment Secretary George Eustice said: "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 OBE, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, added: “There is a billion pounds more food in people's houses than there was three weeks ago.”

The government has also sought to reassure the public that there is no threat to the food supply.

Norman Fulton, head of farming at the Department of Agriculture, Environment, and Rural Affairs, said more people were having to eat at home, but that producers are reporting that they can cope with the extra demand.

"The supply is there, the only difficulty is that people are over-purchasing," he said.

Supermarkets are now reported to be appealing to the government to change the law to make it easier for them to limit what each customer can buy, and have each already introduced measures to address panic-buying.

Tesco and Sainsbury's have both announced a limit of three items per customers across their grocery range and closed their fresh food counters, with Asda and Morrisons taking similar action.

All major supermarkets are also limiting their opening hours, while some have reserved certain hours of the day for elderly people, who are known to be more vulnerable to the virus.

Echoing Mr Fulton's comment, Sainsbury's chief executive Mike Coupe said: "We have enough food coming into the system, but are limiting sales so that it stays on shelves for longer and can be bought by a larger numbers of customers."

The coronavirus has infected more than 270,000 people globally and at least 11,300 since an outbreak first began in late December.

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