GPs unable to get to work as petrol shortages hit NHS workforce

GPs have warned that practice staff are struggling to get to work and are being forced to offer greater numbers of online consultations following recent panic buying of petrol in the UK.

GP consultations (Photo: Robert Johns/UNP)
GP consultations (Photo: Robert Johns/UNP)

Petrol garages across the country are continuing to see large queues as motorists rush to fill up their vehicles amid fears of fuel shortages. This is despite the transport minister Grant Shapps claiming on 26 September that there was 'plenty of fuel'.

Healthcare workers have reported colleagues struggling to get into work, or being delayed, due to issues with getting fuel as customers continue to camp outside petrol stations.

The BMA has called for healthcare workers to be given priority access to fuel so they can get to work and reach patients, with many GPs needing to carry out essential home visits.

NHS staff travel

GP Dr Ellie Cannon wrote on Twitter that a colleague who is a senior GP partner had 'no petrol' to get to work, despite having face-to-face appointments and a flu vaccination clinic to attend to. Dr Cannon urged the government to protect fuel supplies for 'critical workers'.

Watford-based GP Dr Khetan Bhatt tweeted that 'lots of patients' had been forced to switch to remote consultations because of worries around fuel supplies. He said: 'Would normally be seeing lots of my list F2F this morning (as always)…except most of them can’t get to me because they are worried their petrol won’t last the week.'

In another example, medical accountant Andrew Pow thanked a GP practice in Merseyside for switching his appointment from face-to-face to online after he was left with 'insufficient fuel' to get to the surgery.

It is reported that the government will suspend competition law to allow oil companies to target fuel deliveries at petrol stations. The Petrol Retailers Association (PRA) - representing independent fuel retailers - said its members had reported that 50% to 90% of pumps were dry in some areas.

Last week the BMA GP Committee demanded an emergency meeting with the government to discuss its concerns around GP workload and what support can be offered to GP practices as they enter a busy autumn-winter period.

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