Ongoing Fuel Crisis Will Impact Healthcare Services: BMA

Nicky Broyd

October 05, 2021

A British Medical Association member survey found around 7 in 10 doctors concerned about the ongoing fuel crisis impacting their work.

Despite supply improvements in many parts of the UK, petrol and diesel supplies continue to be affected in London and the South East of England.

The Government says there is no UK fuel shortage and people should continue to buy fuel as normal. However, army tanker drivers have been drafted in and 5000 short-term visas are available for foreign tanker drivers to help tackle the problem. Prime Minister, Boris Johnson said today there was a global shortage of drivers and so far only 127 have applied to come to the UK.

More than half of 2084 doctors polled 1 to 4 October in England experienced major problems refuelling vehicles, and 57% think the problems will persist over the coming weeks.

Late for Work

Staff arriving late for work was reported by 45% of respondents, and 29% reported staff absences.

There was a big north-south divide with 74% of London doctors, and 72% of those in the South East expecting the problems to continue, compared with 26% in North East and Yorkshire, and 32% in the North West.

As well as problems for car drivers, some doctors said bus delays were likely because of petrol stations queues.

BMA Council Deputy Chair, Dr David Wrigley, said in a statement: "We asked the Government last week to prioritise access to fuel for emergency and essential workers and as yet there has been no affirmative action, leading to doctors telling us that their services will be disrupted as a result.

He added: "We ask that immediate consideration is given to essential and emergency workers in this ongoing situation and that urgent guidance is issued to allow easier access to fuel."

BMA South East Regional Council Chair, Dr Christine Clayton, added: "The problems with fuel are having an enormous impact, particularly because in some of the more rural surgeries where I work in Surrey, using a bus service is impossible because there isn’t one. I have no other option but to drive so unless we can access fuel, we cannot see our patients."

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Lead Image: PA Media

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