Expert advice

NHS mileage allowances: what are nurses entitled to?

As fuel prices soar and the cost of living crisis continues to bite, we look at current NHS mileage allowances and why there is an urgent need for change

As fuel prices soar and the cost of living crisis continues to bite, we look at current NHS mileage allowances and why there is an urgent need for change

Nurses are calling on the NHS Staff Council to review its mileage allowance guidelines in light of soaring petrol prices.

Community and other nurses using their own cars to drive hundreds of miles a week to visit patients are particularly affected, with the RCN saying that for some fuel costs have gone up £100 a month.

Calls for UK-wide increase in mileage allowance

As the cost of petrol tops £1.60 a litre , more than 55,000 people have signed a petition calling for

As fuel prices soar and the cost of living crisis continues to bite, we look at current NHS mileage allowances and why there is an urgent need for change

Picture: iStock

Nurses are calling on the NHS Staff Council to review its mileage allowance guidelines in light of soaring petrol prices.

Community and other nurses using their own cars to drive hundreds of miles a week to visit patients are particularly affected, with the RCN saying that for some fuel costs have gone up £100 a month.

Calls for UK-wide increase in mileage allowance

As the cost of petrol tops £1.60 a litre, more than 55,000 people have signed a petition calling for a UK-wide increase in the allowance, which was last updated in England in 2014.

Here we look at the current mileage allowance rates and who is eligible to make a claim.

What is the mileage allowance?

The mileage allowance is how NHS staff who use their own vehicle for work purposes, such as home visits, are reimbursed for the associated costs.

Reimbursement of car usage costs was included in Agenda for Change (AfC) arrangements in 2004. Staff on AfC contracts or those with AfC mileage allowances built into their contracts can claim for all work-related travel except commuting costs between home and work.

What are the current rates?

Staff in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland who use their car should be paid 56p per mile for the first 3,500 miles driven in a year and 20p per mile thereafter. Carrying heavy or bulky equipment for work – defined as what cannot reasonably be carried by hand or reduces the vehicle’s seating capacity - increases the rate by 3p per mile, and there is also a passenger allowance of 5p per mile. Those using motorcycles can claim 28p per mile and cyclists can claim 20p per mile, regardless of distance travelled.

The mileage rates are based on data from the AA, which takes into account all associated costs, including fuel. The NHS Staff Council reviews the rates every May and November, although the current rate has remained unchanged since 2014.

In late April 2022, it was announced that mileage rates paid to nurses in Scotland’s NHS will temporarily increase by 5p per mile to ease the effects of rising fuel costs, following lobbying from RCN Scotland and other health unions.

The increase from 56p to 61p for the first 3,500 miles and from 20p to 25p per mile thereafter will apply to work-related travel for four months initially – until 31 July - and will then be reviewed regularly.

What are the arrangements in Wales?

A different agreement is in place in Wales, where rates are set according to HM Revenue and Customs’ approved mileage rates.

These are set at 45p per mile for cars and vans for up to 10,000 miles travelled, reducing to 25p thereafter. The allowances for carrying a passenger or heavy or bulky equipment are each an additional 3p per mile. Motorcyclists can claim 24p per mile and cyclists 20p per mile, regardless of distance travelled.

How do I make a claim?

The RCN advises contacting your organisation’s human resources department for information on how to apply.

How have rising fuel costs affected nursing staff?

The recent spike in fuel costs is leaving many nurses out of pocket, with community nursing staff hit particularly hard, says RCN national officer Brian Morton.

‘Some district and community nursing staff who rely on their cars to visit patients are telling us they are paying £100 more on petrol every month, putting an additional strain on their finances,’ he says. ‘Faced with heavy workloads and a real-terms pay cut, they already have more than enough on their plate without this additional worry.’

What are health unions calling for?

In addition to the regular review of mileage rates, the RCN and other health unions want all NHS employers to provide an immediate extra payment to support staff.

Can rates vary between different NHS employers?

The RCN says it has identified several NHS organisations paying nursing staff less than the mileage rates set nationally, although it has declined to name them or say how many.

The college says it is taking local action to negotiate an increase in mileage rates at these trusts and has asked chief nurses to use their influence to help with this.

It says chief nurses and executive boards can also support nursing staff by exploring changes to community nurse caseloads to reduce unnecessary travel, providing administrative support to help staff make a claim for mileage payments, investing in shared electric vehicles, and making changes to nurses’ bases to reduce mileage.


Further information


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