A hospital consultant in infection described the behaviour of shoppers shown in these shocking pictures taken outside the Thornton Heath branch of Tesco during an NHS-only hour as ‘absolutely disgusting’.

For supermarkets like Tesco, they have never been more busy and are making rocket profits but initially the stores like the one in Brigstock Road, were ill prepared to deal with the desperate panic buying.

Social distancing was non existent and a breeding ground for the virus with, crowds of people cramming in to the store and even involved in fights in the aisles over toilet rolls and pasta.

The Brigstock Road Tesco came in for some further criticism when hours dedicated for the elderly and NHS staff were overwhelmed by all comers without any protocol or protection for staff.

It was ill equipped with not enough security or staff to cope with the numbers of shoppers.

worse still time slots set aside for elderly shoppers and NHS staff were abused.

One senior citizen said:“I went down and it was packed with young and old. There wasn’t a trolley or basket to be had. I asked the security guy by the entrance what had happened to the elderly hour. He said: ‘we’re not doing it’. I told him about the emails and TV announcements that had gone out but he knew nothing about it and said nothing had been organised. “

The hour set aside for NHS staff on Sunday (March 22)   was more like a scrum. What made it worse was that 9 to 10am had been set aside but the store didn’t open until 10am.

A consultant in infection at Croydon University hospital  Imran Qureshi posted on Twitter on March 22: “Absolutely disgusted with healthcare professionals & collective behaviour @Tesco this morning, felt embarrassed by it. Also on-call and didn’t have reception so had to leave to prioritise calls and had to leave without anything. Staff very unhelpful. Good intention, poor delivery.”

On Twitter responding to complaints a Tesco customer service adviser said: “I’m really sorry there’s been some miscommunication regarding some of our English stores. If they’re usually open between 11am and 5pm, you’ll be able to go into the store between 10 and 11am. I’m really sorry for any inconvenience caused.”

By the time the store opened  there was even a queue of cars in to the car park backed all the way up the ramp on to Parchmore Road.

One care worker said: “I was there.. from 9:30am to 11am waiting. It was manic and slow and there was a queue to start. Then normal people started to join in and the staff couldn’t control it and tell normal people to move so it just got out of hand. This morning was my only free time out of the whole week.”

A week later Tesco had got its act together and its current TV advert  ‘Keeping you safe’ shows real staff members explaining the supermarket’s public-health measures, including separate entry and exit points, social-distancing advice, one-way aisles and protective screens at tills.

The consultant was quick to follow up, full of praise after returning to the store Dr Qureshi posted: “@Tesco last week I was less than complimentary about your scheme for NHS workers. A week on with systems in place, I could not be more complimentary. It was a smooth well oiled machine and my thanks to all of your staff at the Thornton Heath branch for an amazing job.”

Shoppers bought an extra £1.9bn of groceries and personal goods in the four weeks ending March 21 sadly, pictures have emerged of stockpiled food, like this organic milk, bought in supermarkets during the coronavirus lockdown which was abandoned on Grove Road behind Lidl on London Road.

One Tesco worker told the Chronicle this week: “ After a couple of weeks of transcending chaos, Tesco seems to now have some degree of control! Although queues waiting to get into the store are still very long, there is now more stock left on the shelves throughout the day. 

“With new limits on how much customers can buy, and recently introduced social distancing measures, shoppers can now expect a more pleasant shopping experience and shorter queues once inside. However, would be nice to see more efforts to keep everything clean and there is still a shortage of baskets at the front of the store.”

•Elsewhere other local shopkeepers were criticised for taking advantage of the crisis by hiking prices on  basics such as meat 

One shopper complained that the butcher was asking for  a  leg of lamb which weighed 3kg,  a whopping £15 per kg so £45

Another shopper said he was asked for £50 for a box of chicken legs which normally cost £15.99.

•In addition to the routine flytipping  there have been unhygienic scenes of abandoned surgical gloves and masks being discarded on the streets alongside existing flytipped  bedding.