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Relief for NI community nurses as increased mileage rates agreed

Northern Ireland health minister Robin Swann has announced an increased allowance for work-related car travel by healthcare staff, to be reviewed in six months

Northern Ireland health minister Robin Swann has announced an increased allowance for work-related car travel by healthcare staff, to be reviewed in six months

Community and district nurses in Northern Ireland are set for some financial relief after a temporary increase in mileage rates was agreed.

Health minister Robin Swann announced a mileage rate increase for work-related car travel by Agenda for Change staff, including trust-employed domiciliary care workers and district nurses.

Temporary relief for staff who have been ‘paying to work’

At present, nurses can claim 59p per mile for the first 3,500 miles driven, and 20p per mile for each mile afterwards. Under the increase nurses will be able to claim 30p per mile for each mile

Northern Ireland health minister Robin Swann has announced an increased allowance for work-related car travel by healthcare staff, to be reviewed in six months

Northern Ireland health minister Robin Swann has announced a temporarily increased allowance for work-related car travel by healthcare staff
Picture: iStock

Community and district nurses in Northern Ireland are set for some financial relief after a temporary increase in mileage rates was agreed.

Health minister Robin Swann announced a mileage rate increase for work-related car travel by Agenda for Change staff, including trust-employed domiciliary care workers and district nurses.

Temporary relief for staff who have been ‘paying to work’

At present, nurses can claim 59p per mile for the first 3,500 miles driven, and 20p per mile for each mile afterwards. Under the increase nurses will be able to claim 30p per mile for each mile after the initial 3,500 threshold.

The changes will be in place for six months and will be reviewed at the end of that period. Trusts are being asked to explore issuing fuel cards to eligible staff when they reach the 3,500 mile threshold.

RCN Northern Ireland director Rita Devlin said: ‘Increasing fuel prices have left some nurses and nursing assistants subsidising health and social care services, and effectively paying to work. While this is a modest increase, it will be a relief to staff who have experienced considerable financial strain to provide care to patients.

‘In the longer term, we need to ensure that community nurses and nursing assistants are not disadvantaged simply for doing their job and we will continue to campaign for a sustained review of the current arrangements.’

A time of political unease in Northern Ireland

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

The move in Northern Ireland follows an interim increase in mileage rates in Scotland. The increase from 56p to 61p for the first 3,500 miles and from 20p to 25p per mile thereafter will apply to work-related travel for four months and will then be reviewed regularly.

The increase comes at a time of political unease in Northern Ireland, with Mr Swann adding he has made the decision without a finalised budget in place and that funding pressures in health may be ‘significant’ by the second half of the financial year.

‘I am mindful of the cost of living pressures on health and social care staff and across the wider community,’ he said. ‘While I am pleased to confirm this mileage rate increase, I would also stress that a sustained and funded cross-departmental approach is the best way to address cost of living issues and provide our citizens with the support they need.’

Sustained autumn campaign for allowances in the UK could include industrial action

A spokesperson for Unison said UK-wide mileage rates are under review. ‘It is expected hard bargaining at a UK level will take place for a more sustained overhaul of the existing allowances,’ they said.

‘What workers need is a decent pay rise. Unison across the UK is preparing for a sustained autumn campaign up to and including industrial action to achieve our goals.’


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