News

Nurses’ struggle to pay high fuel costs ‘isn’t going away’

Queen’s Nursing Institute chief Crystal Oldman says we must review reimbursing costs as system does not allow for increases without impacting nurses’ tax

Queen’s Nursing Institute chief Crystal Oldman says we must review reimbursing costs as system does not allow for increases without impacting nurses’ tax

Nurses struggling to pay for fuel is a problem that ‘isn’t going away’ and needs urgent attention, the head of a nursing charity has warned.

Queen’s Nursing Institute (QNI) chief executive Crystal Oldman said the national approach to reimbursing fuel costs needs to be reviewed as the current system does not allow for increases without it impacting nurses’ tax.

Need a ‘national approach’ to mileage rates and lift the 3,500-mile cap, says charity

Nurses, unions and the QNI have long been calling for a review of the

Queen’s Nursing Institute chief Crystal Oldman says we must review reimbursing costs as system does not allow for increases without impacting nurses’ tax

Nurses are struggling to pay for high fuel costs
Picture: iStock

Nurses struggling to pay for fuel is a problem that ‘isn’t going away’ and needs urgent attention, the head of a nursing charity has warned.

Queen’s Nursing Institute (QNI) chief executive Crystal Oldman said the national approach to reimbursing fuel costs needs to be reviewed as the current system does not allow for increases without it impacting nurses’ tax.

Need a ‘national approach’ to mileage rates and lift the 3,500-mile cap, says charity

Nurses, unions and the QNI have long been calling for a review of the NHS Staff Council’s mileage allowance guidelines as cost of living and fuel costs soar. Many community and district nurses have said the cost of fuel is forcing them off the road.

Nurses can claim 56p per mile for the first 3,500 miles and then 20p per mile thereafter. There has been no change to this payment since 2014, despite the NHS Staff Council reviewing the rates every May and November.

Ms Oldman told Nursing Standard there needs to be a ‘national approach’ to mileage rates and that the 3,500-mile cap needs to be lifted.

‘We absolutely, urgently need to review mileage rates, because this isn’t a problem that’s going away,’ she said.

She said anything paid above the HMRC mileage rate of 45p per mile is taxed as any extra money is seen as an income rather than a reimbursement.

‘It’s almost like giving with one hand and taking with another. So that needs to change,’ she added.

‘Paying fuel costs forward’ cited as possible solution in QNI letter to former health secretary

The charity wrote to former health secretary Sajid Javid in June expressing ‘serious concerns’ about the impact of rising fuel costs on nurses in the community.

The letter said if demand to deliver more care to people at home could not be met, it became a patient safety issue, and suggested ‘paying fuel costs forward’ as a possible solution.

Explaining what this means, Ms Oldman said NHS employers should look to pay their nurses more in mileage rates than what they are claiming to ensure nurses are not left out of pocket paying for fuel.

For example, if they know nurses are claiming £300 a month employers should look to paying them £600 initially so nurses can be ahead with fuel payments, then £300 a month thereafter. Employers could then look to reconcile at the end of the financial year.

Think tank and RCN also call for uplift in NHS mileage rate

The QNI is not alone in calling for a review of mileages rates. The RCN has also been vocal about the need for an increase in rates, and recent report by think tank Policy Exchange also called for an uplift in the NHS mileage rate, suggesting 56p should cover the first 10,000 miles rather than the first 3,500.

Petrol prices are currently £1.70 per litre, according to RAC fuel price data. Nurses have warned that if prices continue to rise they will have to consider leaving the profession, which the RCN has argued is a patient safety issue.

Other countries around the UK have taken temporary measures to ease pressures on NHS staff. Nurses in Scotland had a temporary mileage rate increase of 5p for cars and 3p increase for motorcycles from April to July, while nurses in Wales had a 5p increase from April to June.

Northern Ireland recently increased mileage rates to allow nurses to claim 30p per mile for each mile after the initial 3,500 threshold, instead of 20p.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said nurses and other NHS staff could already claim above HMRC’s approved mileage rate of 45p per mile at 56p.

They added: ‘We are incredibly grateful to everyone working in the NHS and we recognise the pressures caused by the rising cost of living, which is why we are giving a £1,400 pay rise to over 1 million NHS staff, including nurses, paramedics and midwives.

‘We are also taking action to support households, including by cutting fuel duty – and we have urged petrol retailers and others in the supply chain to pass on this historic cut on forecourts.’

NHS Staff Council has been contacted for comment.


In other news

Sign up to continue reading for FREE

OR

Unlock full access to RCNi Plus today

Save over 50% on your first three months:

  • Customisable clinical dashboard featuring 200+ topics
  • Unlimited online access to all 10 RCNi Journals including Mental Health Practice
  • RCNi Learning featuring 180+ RCN accredited learning modules
  • NMC-compliant RCNi Portfolio to build evidence for revalidation
  • Personalised newsletters tailored to your interests

This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this?

Jobs