Hospital Dr News

Fuel crisis: BMA says prioritise health workers or NHS services will suffer

With ministers meeting today to discuss the growing fuel crisis, doctors’ leaders are calling for emergency measures to allow medical staff to fill up their cars.

The Petrol Retailers Association, which represents nearly 5,500 of the UK’s 8,000 filling stations, warned on Sunday that up to two-thirds of outlets were out of fuel, with the rest of them “partly dry and running out soon”.

Panic buying is leading to long-waits and shortages at the petrol pumps, and a shortage of HGV drivers is slowing down petrol station re-filling.

Healthcare workers must have priority access to fuel amid supply issues, the BMA says.

It’s calling for emergency measures to let medical staff fill up, warning that as pumps run dry “there is a real risk that NHS staff won’t be able to do their jobs”.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said: “Emergency and essential workers rely on fuel both to travel to work and for their work itself – whether this is to get to hospitals, practices and other healthcare settings, or for ambulances to reach people in urgent need of care and GPs to visit very ill patients at home.

“Everyone will have their own reasons for needing to fill up, but as pumps run dry there is a real risk that NHS staff won’t be able to do their jobs, and provide vital services and care to people who urgently need it.

“While the Government has said it is putting plans in place to alleviate the shortage of HGV drivers to transport fuel, the results of this won’t be immediate. Healthcare and essential workers must therefore be given priority access to fuel so they can continue their crucial work and guarantee care to patients.”

Stop panic buying

In an interview on Monday, the environment secretary George Eustice said there was “plenty of petrol” and urged people to buy it in the way they usually do.

Brian Madderson, chairman of the Petrol Retailers Association, said the industry had problems with a shortage of HGV drivers but it only became a “critical situation” when a submission by BP to the cabinet was leaked, sparking widespread coverage and panic buying.

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