NHS worker walks six miles to hospital as he can’t afford travel pass

An NHS worker had to walk six miles to the hospital where he works as he can’t afford a travel pass in the cost of living crisis.

Joe Baldwin, 36, has worked at Aintree Hospital as a clinical nursing assistant for 14 years and was earning £18,500-a-year when prices began to shoot up. He realised his wage no longer covered the basics and had to move out of his dockside flat and rent a cheaper one, join a food union to buy subsidised food and stop taking out a monthly travel pass.

On some days he now walks the six miles from his city centre flat to the hospital in Aintree.

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Joe, who is originally from Glasgow, said: “Everything was going up and I had to take out loans to survive. I suddenly found myself having to choose between paying the bills or buying food, and the bills came first. I just feel downtrodden.

“It’s soul-destroying talking to my colleagues. Morale is on the floor in our hospital. Even many of the senior staff, who earn £35,000 are on their knees. I’ve seen them sliding down walls crying their eyes out.

“People are missing shifts and phoning in sick because they can’t afford to pay for nursery costs. I even know people who are changing their will.

“I haven’t told my family back in Glasgow any of this because if they knew it would worry them enormously.”

Liz Collins, a 57-year-old midwife at Liverpool Women’s Hospital, echoed Joe’s experiences.

Liz, who has worked for the NHS for 40 years said: “Not so long ago you would never have dreamed that NHS professionals would be using food banks but I know midwives, nurses and healthcare assistants who are. There are probably a couple of hundred across Merseyside and Cheshire.

“They tell me they feel shame, disgust and anger that they have studied for three years and they’re in this position but they’re being pushed to the limit.”

At least six NHS trusts have launched staff food banks or food voucher schemes to help workers cope with the rising cost of living.

Liz added: “We feel undervalued, underpaid and are working longer hours than we’re contracted to do yet the feeling of not being able to make ends meet is worse than it’s ever been. When I started in the 1980s you didn’t hear people complaining all the time about pay. I feel so sorry for single parents who have difficulty in feeding their children and heating their home.”

West Derby MP Ian Byrne is attempting to get a basic Right to Food enshrined in law and said he is also concerned about people in his constituency.

He said: “We’re in the biggest crisis in living memory. Two weeks ago I had a phone call from a pensioner who said he had to choose between heating or powering up his wheelchair. And this is the fifth richest country in the world.

“These are choices getting made every day across communities. It’s intolerable, it’s a complete failure of capitalism and it can’t go on.

“I have a quote from Nelson Mandela hanging in my office to inspire me. It says: ‘Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the action of human beings.’ It’s about time we got on with it.”

Karen J. Simmons

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