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Cut in fuel duty not enough to help community nurses, RCN says

Community nurses driving great distances to see patients and give vital care need immediate additional payments and an urgent review of NHS mileage rates, it says
Picture of a nurse filling her car at a petrol pump

Community nurses driving great distances to see patients and give vital care need immediate additional payments and an urgent review of NHS mileage rates, it says

Community and district nurses are set to benefit from a 5p-a-litre cut in fuel duty as the government moves to tackling the spiralling cost of fuel.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the measure in today’s Spring Statement as petrol prices hit an average of £1.67 per litre. The measure will come into play at 6pm tonight and remain in place until March 2023.

But the RCN said more help was needed for nurses who use a car in

Community nurses driving great distances to see patients and give vital care need immediate additional payments and an urgent review of NHS mileage rates, it says

Picture of a nurse filling her car at a petrol pump
Picture: Neil O’Connor

Community and district nurses are set to benefit from a 5p-a-litre cut in fuel duty as the government moves to tackling the spiralling cost of fuel.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the measure in today’s Spring Statement as petrol prices hit an average of £1.67 per litre. The measure will come into play at 6pm tonight and remain in place until March 2023.

But the RCN said more help was needed for nurses who use a car in their work. RCN general secretary Pat Cullen said: ‘This will not be enough to stop nursing staff subsidising the NHS when they fill up their car.’

Mr Sunak said it was the biggest ever cut to fuel duty and is worth more than £2.4 billion. Currently fuel duty for both petrol and diesel is priced at 57.95 pence per litre but today’s announcement will see it cut to 52.95 pence per litre.

Calculations by the RAC show that a 5p cut in fuel duty would shave about £3 off the cost of filling a 55-litre family car – or around 6p per litre.

Today’s announcement will go some way to helping nurses who make house calls to patients after stark warnings that the rising cost of fuel could force some nurses off the road, putting patients at risk if they are unable to carry out frequent home visits.

RCN wants NHS Staff Council to support nurses using their own cars to visit patients

Ahead of the Chancellor’s statement NHS leaders called for urgent action to offset rocketing fuel prices. NHS Confederation chief executive Matthew Taylor said: ‘Put simply, if staff in the community can’t afford to fill their tanks then they cannot make important house calls and check in on some of the most vulnerable and poorly patients in our communities.’

Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust chief executive Siobhan Melia said: ‘We have heard from our community-based staff about the stress and anxiety caused as a result of rising fuel costs. Some are changing their daily work patterns to reduce travel and conserve fuel for direct patient visits, while others are using pool cars.’

The RCN has called on the NHS Staff Council to urgently review its expenses guidelines to support nurses using their own cars to visit patients.

Ms Cullen, commenting after the chancellor’s announcement, said: ‘When community nursing staff drive great distances to see their patients, giving vital care, this is not enough action – they need immediate additional payments and an urgent review of the rates.’

NHS mileage rates

Currently, nurses can claim 56p per mile for the first 3,500 miles a year, and 20p per mile thereafter.

The rates are set and reviewed twice a year by the NHS Staff Council, but they have not changed in eight years. The next review is due in April.

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.


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