Selfish shoppers pretended to be NHS workers during an early shopping hour for medical staff, in a bid to beat the queues during the coronavirus pandemic.
Doctors, nurses and 111 callers, working around the clock and unable to get basic supplies, faced 600 metre queues at a Tesco on Sunday morning, with no social distancing measures.
Customers who were not entitled to the extra hour tried to sneak past security staff and jump the queue in a bid to get in early at a Tesco Extra in Gallions Reach, east London.
One family argued with security staff and rammed their trollies into the barriers when their attempts to join the NHS shopping hour failed.
The large supermarket is one of many Tesco stores offering a dedicated shopping hour for NHS workers who were asked to show their badge upon entry – and offered a free bouquet of flowers for Mother’s Day.
NHS workers praised Tesco staff for their efforts but raised concerns that hundreds of medical professionals, including those treating Covid-19 patients, were queuing at close proximity.
Nurse Francesca Hamilton arrived at the store at 9am but left the queue to help Tesco staff manage the crowds and said she was surprised at such behaviour.
The 47-year-old sexual health nurse, from Marie Stopes International, said: I am surprised people have tried to jump the queue. It’s unbelievable.
Tesco staff are doing their best but there are too many people so I decided to come out of the queue and help.
If I can help people in hospitals, I can help people here and I will. I am passionate about helping people in sickness and in health.
If people respect the government’s advice that they have set out for NHS workers then it would be fine but people are not following that.
They should lift Sunday trading hours to help reduce queues, make it more clear which stores are participating, and maybe introduce one hour in the afternoon for NHS workers, for those who work shifts.
Also, if there were more days for us to come here during the week, we would not all struggle coming here all jumping in at the same time.
Regular shoppers, who also arrived at the supermarket early, were enraged when they reached the front of the queue and realised they were stood in the wrong line.