NHS workers' fury at Iceland after being told they must 'buy anything they touch' in shops

16 April 2020, 12:43

The supermarket has caused upset with the policy
The supermarket has caused upset with the policy. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Supermarket chain Iceland has apologised after online outrage over a policy saying NHS workers must purchase any products they touch in their stores, "they can't put them back."

The policy appeared on the supermarket's website under a section which details special hours for NHS workers during the coronavirus outbreak.

It was spotted by a number of social media users who voiced their complaints.

One NHS worker who spotted it said she felt like the chain was treating her like a "leper."

She posted online: "This is on the Iceland website it make us feel so disrespected that we would ever put anyone at risk it is so upsetting to think they are treating as lepers."

The supermarket said they have "strong measures in place to protect our staff during the Covid-19 outbreak," and during NHS shopping hours they limit payments to cards only.

But, listed under a subheading about how the company will "protect" their staff, the website said, "if NHS workers touch products they have to buy them, they can't put them back."

The frozen food chain claim this is to "reduce the risk of contamination."

A spokesperson for NHS England confirmed this was not NHS policy or advice.

But NHS workers were not happy with this policy and some said they would no longer use the store.

A spokesperson told LBC News: "This was an error and should not have been posted on our website.

"We sincerely apologise for the offence this has clearly caused, and have immediately withdrawn this guidance.

"We are deeply grateful to the NHS and all key workers for everything they are doing to keep the country running."

The policy is listed on the store's website
The policy is listed on the store's website. Picture: LBC News

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Sarah Parker, an Infection Prevention and Control Specialist Nurse said Iceland’s comments were unfounded. She said; “If anything, NHS workers would be less of a risk than the general public.”

Adding that NHS staff “are usually more conscious of correct hand hygiene practices” and are often more compliant with the current social distancing advice.

Judith Laycock, an NHS nurse took the move as an "insult."

Stephen Davis, an NHS worker, said he found the policy offensive.

The World Health Organisation says Covid-19 is a respiratory virus which spreads primarily through droplets generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose.

They advise people to protect themselves by washing their hands frequently with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.