The Chief Executive of a Cambridgeshire health trust said it is “extraordinary” they are having to talk about heating and food in one of the world’s largest economies.

Roland Sinker, chief executive at the Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, discussed some of the cost-of-living concerns being faced by staff and patients.

At the trust’s board of directors meeting on October 12, Mr Sinker said there were particular parts of the community who were “very vulnerable” to even small increases in the cost of heating and food.

He said the trust was focusing on supporting the most vulnerable patients to avoid them getting into difficulties.

In his report to the board, Mr Sinker said: “The national increase in the cost of living is concerning to staff and we have seen an increase in the number of individuals accessing support.

“In response, we are refreshing our financial support and benefits pages with information, advice and signposting for staff experiencing financial hardship.”

Mr Sinker added: “It is quite extraordinary that in the sixth largest economy we are talking about heating and food.”

David Wherrett, the director of workforce at the trust, said some staff were choosing to sell their annual leave.

He said while staff were being supported if choosing to do so, the trust was putting “boundaries around that” in place.

He also said that almost 10 per cent of staff had chosen to opt out of the trust pension scheme.

Mr Wherrett said that in the “vast majority” of cases this was because they “simply cannot afford to be in the pension scheme.”

He said the trust needed to consider what this meant for the support it offers to staff.

The recruitment and retention of lower paid health care workers was also raised as a concern at a meeting.

A report presented to the board said the vacancy rate for health care support workers had increased to 14.4 per cent from 13.9 per cent in July.

It added that the turnover rate for this group also remained high at 19.8 per cent, with the main reason for leaving being given as needing to relocate.

The meeting also heard how the trust is planning to mobilise for the fourth time since February 2020 to meet the expected winter pressures.