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Rising fuel costs forcing nurses to turn down community roles

Nurse leaders say resulting staff shortages are putting vulnerable patients at risk and many in workforce could leave profession unless costs are addressed

Nurse leaders say resulting staff shortages are putting vulnerable patients at risk and many in workforce could leave profession unless costs are addressed

Nurses are turning down jobs and extra shifts in the community because of the rising cost of petrol, according to NHS leaders who say they are deeply worried about staffing levels.

A survey completed by more than 100 leaders of NHS community services found the majority were concerned about staffing shortages related to recent increases in the cost of fuel.

Nurses’ reluctance to drive is leading to staff shortages

Many who took part in the survey,

Nurse leaders say resulting staff shortages are putting vulnerable patients at risk and many in workforce could leave profession unless costs are addressed

Picture: iStock

Nurses are turning down jobs and extra shifts in the community because of the rising cost of petrol, according to NHS leaders who say they are deeply worried about staffing levels.

A survey completed by more than 100 leaders of NHS community services found the majority were concerned about staffing shortages related to recent increases in the cost of fuel.

Nurses’ reluctance to drive is leading to staff shortages

Many who took part in the survey, run by NHS Confederation and NHS Providers, reported that nurses and other key staff were turning down community jobs that involve driving in favour of roles closer to home or without the need to travel. Concern about fuel costs has also led many district and specialist nurses to opt out of doing extra shifts.

The resulting staff shortages mean vulnerable patients may wait longer for home visits and are at increased risk of being admitted to hospital, according to the survey participants.

Nurse leaders concerned about staff retention and recruitment

One leader of community services said staff have reported paying an additional £200 a month on travel costs to visit patients, while another said 750 staff had applied for financial help with bills in the past three months.

‘We know sickness has gone up as a way of deflecting from the problem as people do not want to be honest about their financial issues and not being able to fund their car,’ one leader said.

Ninety out of 103 community service leaders said they were worried about their organisation’s ability to deliver all services. Ninety-two respondents said they were concerned about staff retention and 89 about recruitment.

On average, leaders estimated that around 8% of their workforce could leave in the next year unless action is taken to address fuel costs.

Call for increase in reimbursement rates

Many respondents said they were trying to support staff via initiatives such as increasing mileage rates, scrapping a 3,500-mile mileage cap and investing in pool cars.

NHS Confederation and NHS Providers – alongside nursing bodies such as the RCN and Queen’s Nursing Institute – are calling for a national approach to the mileage cap and reimbursement for NHS staff.

They want to see a national increase in reimbursement rates alongside an increase in the amount that is tax-free.

Government points to increased mileage rates for nurses

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said NHS staff could already claim above HMRC’s approved mileage rate of 45p per mile – at 56p for the first 3,500 miles travelled and 20p per mile afterwards.

In May the NHS Staff Council, which sets mileage rates, said there was ‘no prospect’ of central funding to boost mileage rates and that any increase in reimbursements would need to be considered at a local level.

Rising energy and fuel costs are also having a crippling impact on other parts of the NHS. A report published in the BMJ suggests some NHS trusts may have to pay out an extra £2 million per month due to ‘eye-watering’ increases in energy prices.


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