SUPERMARKETS across Tameside have promised to give care workers the same priority treatment as NHS staff thanks to pressure from the borough’s three MPs.
Ashton MP Angela Rayner was contacted by a group that represents staff from 40 care homes across Tameside to say that workers did not feel valued in supermarkets despite being on the frontline in the battle against coronavirus.
The group’s representative said: “Care workers are often paid close to the minimum wage and have been providing specialist care to their residents whose needs have become extremely complex whilst suffering with this virus.
“Without exception, staff are doing this with courage, dignity and kindness, looking after these extremely poorly residents like one of their own family. I have not heard one single complaint, self-pitying remark or anything other than genuine concern and kindness for those in their care.
“We have seen carers break down in tears at the magnitude of what they are managing. Some are choosing to lock down at work and have not seen their families for some time. Many are taking on extra shifts in order to limit the use of agency staff who pose a greater risk to residents.
“What’s concerning is that staff are telling me they feel under-valued in the community when compared to NHS staff. They say supermarkets are refusing them entry to key worker shopping sessions and not accepting staff letters to say where they work or the blue light cards. Care staff are being told to join the main queues when they are going in to pick up residents’ prescriptions.
“I really want to highlight the plight of these valuable key workers.”
Ms Rayner wrote to Asda stores in Tameside asking them to reconsider their policy on care workers. Stalybridge and Hyde MP Jonathan Reynolds and Denton and Reddish MP Andrew Gwynne were extremely supportive and co-signed the letter.
As a result, Asda have announced that they will provide priority delivery passes to care homes to give them early visibility of slots and allow them to shop for their residents online.
Asda will also donate 250,000 medical grade facemasks to care homes across the country to ease concerns staff have about PPE.
Care workers are also welcome in Asda stores for priority access (alongside NHS workers) on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays between 8am-9am and an exclusive browsing hour every Sunday from 9am-10am. They just need to bring a form of ID or letter from the care home.
Ms Rayner, who was recently elected as Labour’s deputy leader, said: “Asda’s prompt response is extremely welcome, and the new measures introduced will provide relief for our wonderful care workers across Tameside.
“They are on the frontline day and night while most of us are at home keeping ourselves and our families safe. There are no words to express how truly grateful we are to each and every one of them and how proud we are of their incredible efforts.”