London doctors fear disruptions to work amid lack of access to fuel

·3-min read
(Peter Byrne/PA) (PA Wire)
(Peter Byrne/PA) (PA Wire)

Almost three-quarters of doctors in London and the South East fear they will have major problems refuelling their cars in the coming weeks, a survey has found.

Half in the capital believe there will be staff absences as a result, the same study suggested.

The British Medical Association (BMA) is urging the Government to give essential and emergency workers easier access to fuel.

It comes as the Petrol Retailers Association said while there has been a “marked improvement” in the fuel situation since Sunday across most of the country, the picture in London and the South East has only seen a “marginal improvement”.

The doctors’ union said medics had told it their services will be disrupted as a result of lack of access to fuel.

The BMA surveyed 2,084 doctors in England between October 1 and 4.

It said 74% of doctors in London and 72% of respondents in the South East think they will have major problems refuelling their car in the next few weeks.

This compares to 26% in North East and Yorkshire and 32% in North West.

The survey results showed 50% of doctors in London think that staff absences will occur next week.

Almost two-thirds (65%) of doctors in London felt that staff might arrive late due to bus delays because of queuing traffic around petrol stations. The figure for the North East and Yorkshire was 28%, according to the survey.

Dr David Wrigley, BMA council deputy chair, said: “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 said there is a “very real possibility that some patients will miss out on their appointments”.

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.”

Dr Christine Clayton, BMA South East regional council chair, said: “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.

“As I drive around the county, I’ve seen huge queues at all the petrol stations, with several noticeably devoid of both petrol and diesel. We must have priority access to fuel and fast.”

A Government spokesperson said: “It’s important to stress there is no shortage of fuel in the UK, and people should continue to buy fuel as normal.

“We are working closely with industry to help increase fuel stocks and there are signs of improvement in average forecourt stocks across the UK with demand continuing to stabilise.

“?Several measures have been taken to remedy the issue, including relaxing competition law, utilising our Reserve Tanker Fleet, and using military personnel to drive tankers.”

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