Desperate nurses surviving on scraps of food as they prepare to strike – Express


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Nurses who voted to strike have been forced to survive on food scraps left behind by patients, unable to afford groceries, rent and basic bills. Two working nurses revealed today that the situation has left NHS workers “frightened” as they attempt to make ends meet in an increasingly dire cost of living crisis. Many chose to strike with a heavy heart as the Royal College of Nursing hailed the opportunity as one to improve pay and conditions for those in the nursing profession. 
One nurse named Esther told the Daily Mirror she struggles to afford lunch in the hospital canteen or groceries for a packed lunch.
The 36-year-old from Zimbabwe said she was left feeding on scraps left behind on patients’ plastic trays while feeling faint with hunger pangs.
She added she needs the energy to complete her shift and isn’t alone in her struggles.
Other NHS nurses, including those trained locally, must make similar choices as the cost of living surges.
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Carmel O’Boyle
Nurse Esther said: “Yes, I go without meals. Lunch, sometimes breakfast. You can’t go and buy a hot meal at work, it costs £6-7.
“Sometimes you have to grab extra sandwiches from the patients’ trollies. Of course people will tell you it’s against hospital policy. Some say it’s okay. Most of the time I do that.
“Sometimes they reprimand you, but they have not reported me. It is common to take the leftover food, even the British nurses do this.
“It’s only ever the leftovers, and it keeps you going.”
Nurse Esther
The mother of three survives on a £26,000 salary while working at a hospital in southern England.
She arrived in the UK last September on a visa for nurses needed to fill NHS posts but struggles due to high rent, huge energy bills and food costs.
She paid £1,200 per month while working in the south and paid an additional £500 to £600 for food, pushing her monthly expenditure to £1,800.
The nurse has now moved north in search of a cheaper life and now pays £1,000 for rent.
Carmel O’Boyle
Another nurse, Carmel O’Boyle, has encountered similar issues while working at an NHS primary care walk-in centre as a nurse practitioner.
The single mum of one, 42, lives with her 15-year-old son and said she relies on family support to make ends meet on her £28,000-a-year salary.
She said that while she has a support network, others who don’t are “really frightened”.
Ms O’Boyle said she voted for the strikes after seeing her colleagues in “desperate situations”.
She told The Mirror: “The appetite has really changed because a few years ago nurses were adamant that they wouldn’t strike. Now things have got so bad they don’t feel there’s anything else they can do to get the Government to listen.
“I sat and deliberated before voting for strike action. But I just can’t hear my colleagues any more in these desperate situations.”
The RCN is advocating for better pay and conditions in its first-ever strikes since its founding 106 years ago.
General Secretary Pat Cullen hailed the action as a “once in a generation” opportunity to improve pay and “combat staff shortages”.
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