The Chancellor must take ‘urgent’ action to prevent nurses being forced off the road by rising petrol prices, the RCN have said.
Ahead of Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Spring Statement, the organisation is calling for an urgent review of the NHS mileage rates in the wake of the fuel crisis and for NHS employers across the UK to provide an immediate additional payment.
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According to the RCN, nursing staff working in the community have said that the cost of filling up their cars has risen recently by as much as £100 a month.
‘The Chancellor needs to urgently help nursing staff hit by the eye watering fuel prices in his Spring Statement. He and the Health Secretary must reassure us that they do not expect nursing staff to subsidise the health service from their own pockets,’ said RCN General Secretary and Chief Executive Pat Cullen.
‘District and community nursing staff who rely on their cars to visit patients are telling us they’re having to pay £100 more on fuel every month, putting an additional strain on their already tight finances.’
The official trigger for a change in NHS mileage rates is a 20% increase or decrease in motoring or fuel costs over a 12-month average – but it is understood that that threshold has not been reached yet and the RCN says ministers and employers must not delay until further hikes.
Those on NHS Agenda for Change contracts, or with mileage allowances in their contracts, can claim 56p per mile for the first 3500 miles per year and 20p for each additional mile. With prices at the pump soaring by at least 10% in the last month, nursing staff are being left increasingly out of pocket.
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‘The situation is becoming unsustainable – what will happen if nursing staff can’t afford to fill up their cars? It is patients who will ultimately suffer,’ said RCN General Secretary and Chief Executive Pat Cullen.
‘With many nursing staff already considering leaving the profession, this extra cost and pressure will not do anything to encourage people to stay.’