Page last updated at 03:59 GMT, Wednesday, 4 June 2008 04:59 UK

Nurses call for petrol cost help

Nurse
Nurses say they are subsidising the NHS

Community nurses are urging Chancellor Alastair Darling to compensate them for the soaring cost of petrol.

The Royal College of Nursing has written to him to warn that the UK's 60,000 community nurses cannot afford the extra cost of running a car.

Nursing Standard magazine says petrol costs 32% more than it did when nurses' mileage allowances last rose in 2000.

NHS Employers said it was currently reviewing mileage allowances after unions asked for a 10% interim rise.

Nurses who work in the community have no choice but to use a vehicle to reach patients in their own homes and it is unacceptable that many of them are facing the prospect of subsidising the NHS
Dr Peter Carter
Royal College of Nursing

In a letter to Mr Darling, Dr Peter Carter, RCN general secretary, said the rising cost of fuel was a particular problem at a time when more care is being delivered in the community.

Dr Carter is asking for changes to the mileage allowance, and to tax relief. He has also called on the chancellor to scrap plans for a 2p rise in fuel duty.

The current system of NHS reimbursement is complex, and based on the size of the car and average mileage.

However, an example provided by the RCN suggested that a nurse clocking up 3,500 miles a year in a 1,500cc vehicle costing 14,000 new would typically receive 1,445 a year less than that recommended by the AA.

Constant rises

Dr Carter said: "Everyone knows that fuel prices have been on the rise for months with no sign of slowing down.

"Nurses who work in the community have no choice but to use a vehicle to reach patients in their own homes and it is unacceptable that many of them are facing the prospect of subsidising the NHS."

Evelyn Ryan, a district nurse team leader in Coatbridge, north Lanarkshire, told Nursing Standard: "The cost of fuel is having a huge impact.

"Nurses are having to pay to come to work. Most have lease cars and the petrol allowance is very, very low. Nurses feel they cannot go on with this.

"It is costing too much to come to work and see patients, particularly with double visits when you may have to visit a patient two or three times a day."

NHS Employers said it was currently reviewing mileage allowances following an interim claim for a 10% increase from the health unions.

A spokesperson said: "The increases in the cost of fuel are a matter of concern. NHS Employers believes it is important that any member of the NHS staff who uses a car for work is appropriately and fairly reimbursed for the cost of the fuel that they use."


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