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Fuel costs forcing nurses to look for jobs elsewhere

Higher mileage allowance among changes needed to stem the drain on nurses’ finances, union says
A woman at a petrol station appears worried as she looks at the price gauge

Higher mileage allowance among changes needed to stem the drain on nurses’ finances, union says

The cost of getting to work and driving to see patients is draining the finances of nurses and forcing some to look for jobs elsewhere, says a health union.

A survey of nearly 12,000 health workers by Unison found parking charges, mileage rates and the soaring cost of petrol are leaving many out of pocket.

Nearly three quarters or 74% of the 3,000 staff who said they use their car for work said the current mileage allowance was not enough to cover the cost of petrol. Of those, 58% said they

Higher mileage allowance among changes needed to stem the drain on nurses’ finances, union says

A woman at a petrol station appears worried as she looks at the price gauge
Picture: iStock

The cost of getting to work and driving to see patients is draining the finances of nurses and forcing some to look for jobs elsewhere, says a health union.

A survey of nearly 12,000 health workers by Unison found parking charges, mileage rates and the soaring cost of petrol are leaving many out of pocket.

Nearly three quarters or 74% of the 3,000 staff who said they use their car for work said the current mileage allowance was not enough to cover the cost of petrol. Of those, 58% said they were out of pocket every month while 20% said they were looking for another job.

Hospital parking charges are adding to the financial burden on nurses

‘With COVID, I’ve got lots more patients and am driving more but the mileage is pathetic,’ said one survey respondent. ‘It doesn’t cover the upkeep of my car, let alone the miles. I love my job, but I don’t know how I will survive.’

The survey also revealed hospital parking charges were adding to the financial burden on nurses and other healthcare staff. NHS trusts and boards in Wales and Scotland do not charge staff for parking. But free parking – introduced in England and Northern Ireland due to the pandemic – ended last month with some trusts starting to charge again.

About two fifths or 39% of health workers who took part in Unison’s survey said their employer had already – or was planning to – reintroduced parking charges for employees. Many said they would pay the charges but might need to cut back on other spending, while some said they would struggle to get to work and might need to move jobs.

Trusts urged to help by providing pool cars and planning work to reduce the miles staff cover

Unison head of health Sara Gorton said staff already facing huge rises in the cost of living were ‘paying through the nose for fuel and parking – just to do their jobs’. She said: ‘Some health roles can’t be done without a car, especially those carried out in rural areas by community support workers and district nurses.’

A motion at Unison’s annual conference this week called for urgent action to increase mileage allowances. The union also wants an increase in the amount that can be claimed tax-free and says trusts should take steps such as providing pool cars and planning work to reduce the miles staff cover.

Mileage rates are agreed between NHS employers and unions and reviewed every six months by the NHS Staff Council, with the next review due this month. NHS staff can claim 56p per mile. Governments in Scotland and Wales have temporarily boosted rates by 5p.

The Department of Health and Social Care said free parking for staff was a temporary measure at a time of unprecedented demand. More than 94% of trusts offer free parking to those who need it most, including NHS staff working night shifts, said a spokesperson. HM Treasury said all taxes are kept under review.


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