Booths supermarket turns NHS staff away for fear of coronavirus spread
Booths supermarket turns AWAY NHS staff in uniform for fear of spreading coronavirus as care worker reveals she was left ’embarrassed and upset’ at being refused entrance
- Booths chain said its policy prevents health workers entering stores in uniform
- Customers wearing uniform have recently been asked to get changed outside
- At-home carer Joe-Ann Whitaker was unable to go in on her half-an-hour break
- Healthcare guidance says changing out of uniforms based on public perception
Booths supermarket has been slammed for turning away NHS staff and carers dressed in uniform over fears they will spread coronavirus.
One care worker said she was left feeling ’embarrassed and upset’ when she wasn’t allowed inside a store in Fulwood, Lancashire, which is located opposite the Royal Preston Hospital.
The chain, which has 28 stores across the north west, said its policy of having no medical uniforms in-store is in place to protect their customers.
One care worker said she was left feeling ’embarrassed and upset’ when she wasn’t allowed inside a store in Fulwood, Lancashire (pictured) which is located opposite the Royal Preston Hospital
But Joe-Ann Whitaker, who works for Direct Health and visits elderly people in their homes, was refused entry when she tried to buy a sandwich on her half-an-hour lunch break.
She told the Lancashire Evening Post: ‘It was embarrassing and upsetting. What was I supposed to do, get changed in the car park?
‘We’re working long hours at the moment in very difficult circumstances and we don’t have the time to get changed.
‘We only get a half hour break for lunch. And there’s no way I’m taking my clothes off in a supermarket car park.’
Ms Whitaker said the security guard who denied her entry didn’t ask anyone if they could get her a sandwich while she waited outside.
She said her friend also went into the store in uniform on the same day and was told to get changed in her car.
Ms Whitaker’s employer, Direct Health, is the care home department of Accord Housing Association.
The chain, which has 28 stores across the north west, said its policy of having no medical uniforms in-store is in place to protect their customers. Pictured: Royal Preston Hospital
Maxine Espley, Executive Director Care and Support at Accord said: ‘Accord, and all of our staff, follow all Public Health authority guidance.
‘Guidance for infection prevention and control in healthcare settings, issued jointly by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), Public Health Wales (PHW), Public Health Agency (PHA) Northern Ireland, Health Protection Scotland (HPS) and Public Health England, clearly states that changing in and out of uniforms and not wearing them for travel is based on public perception rather than evidence of an infection risk.
‘It also clearly states: “This does not apply to community health workers who are required to travel between patients in the same uniform.”‘
Booths said it was following guidance issued by the Royal Preston and Fulwood Hall hospitals to prevent infection but said it could have done more for Mrs Whitaker.
A spokesperson said: ‘It is hugely regrettable that the customer felt unappreciated at this time. Booths pride themselves on looking after all customers within their communities.
‘We have now made practical arrangements in store to help accommodate similar situations in the future.
‘These are stressful and unprecedented times for health care workers, customers and our colleagues working hard to provide food.
‘Our amazing teams are adapting daily to meet the unprecedented multiple demands of this crisis and working night and day in very difficult circumstances to serve our customers safely.
‘At Booths we value the enormous contribution of all health workers, particularly at this critical time. However, Booths do need to stress the vital importance of good hygiene practices and ask that all health workers wear civilian clothes when in store.
‘Booths must prioritise the safety of all their colleagues and customers at all times.
‘This policy is to protect colleagues and customers from possible infection and is part of a range of hygiene and social distancing measures in place as directed from Public Health England. Booths are respecting the guidance that has been provided.’
The policy applies to all health workers and will be in place during the coronavirus pandemic.
From March 23 it started a takeaway service from the cafe for NHS, police, fire services, army personnel and social care workers. It also introduced shopping hours for key workers.
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