Prioritise nurses at petrol pumps or patient care will suffer, warn nursing chiefs

Petrol distribution crisis has prompted panic buying, preventing nurses from doing their jobs

Petrol distribution crisis has prompted panic buying, preventing key workers from doing their jobs

This news story was updated on 28 September 2021

Photo showing nurse in uniform filling her car with petrol
Picture: Neil O’Connor

Nurses should be given priority to fill up their cars with fuel amid fears petrol shortages will leave them unable to get to work, prominent nursing figures have warned.

The call follows concerns raised by nurses that low fuel supplies could put patient care at risk.

Fuel crisis will particularly affect community nurses

Petrol stations are reporting severe fuel shortages following days of panic-buying following public worries over potential disruptions to supplies.

Queen’s Nursing Institute chief executive Crystal Oldman said nurses and social care staff working in the community would be particularly affected by shortages at the pumps.

‘If nurses don’t have access to fuel, they can’t get to their patients and then care is compromised.

‘Nurses may have to spend time finding where fuel is available and then queue – this is also taking time away from patient care. More than likely nurses will extend their days, so it will actually be unpaid overtime.’

Pleas via social media for people to stop panic buying

Dr Oldman added that nurses working in the community are unable to use less petrol by sharing cars with colleagues because they work alone – but said all health and social care staff should be given priority for fuel.

‘I want their employers to be working at a local level with the government to ensure that they are the priority,’ she said.

The QNI has sent a letter to the government asking for fuel to be sent to key locations that NHS and other key workers will have priority access to.

Many nurses issued pleas via social media for people to stop panic buying or they could be unable to reach their workplaces and patients.

Labour MP for Tooting Rosena Allin-Khan has also called for NHS staff to be prioritised for fuel.

Lecturer in adult nursing Sheila Sobrany said the petrol crisis had delayed an ambulance crew in reaching her uncle who died following a heart attack.

Patient care could be compromised

RCN England director Patricia Marquis said: ‘Health and care services, already struggling with widespread staffing shortages, cannot afford to lose any more staff because they’re unable to travel. We already know some nursing staff are warning their employers they may not be able to attend tomorrow to ensure shifts can be safely staffed.

‘In light of these supply problems, health and care workers need to be a priority or patient care will be compromised.’

The government has been approached for comment.

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