The government faces calls to prioritize essential workers as some gasoline supplies run out amid the impacts of a shortage of truck drivers.
Long lines were reported overnight and some gasoline brands are seeing as many as 90% of your sites go dry, according to the Gasoline Retailers Association.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said designated service stations should be reserved for essential workers.
Union Unison said key workers should not be stranded or forced to queue for hours for fuel, and called on the government to “designate fuel stations for the exclusive use of key workers.”
“Essential staff must be able to get to their jobs so they can continue to provide the services that many trust,” said union general secretary Christina McAnea.
“Ambulance crews, nurses, health workers, teaching aides, police personnel and other key workers should not be stranded or forced to queue for hours simply to get to a pump.
“The government could solve this problem now by using emergency powers to designate fuel stations for the exclusive use of key workers.”
But what difficulties are essential workers experiencing?
Health and essential workers should have priority access to fuel, the British Medical Association has said.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, Chairman of the Board of BMA, said that healthcare workers should be prioritized to ensure patient care. He said that “there is a real risk that NHS staff will not be able to do their job.”
“While the government has said it is implementing plans to alleviate the shortage of heavy vehicle drivers to transport fuel, the results of this will not be immediate,” added Dr. Nagpaul.
“Therefore, essential and healthcare workers must have priority access to fuel so they can continue their crucial work and ensure patient care.”
Earlier, a campaign group called EveryDoctor, which has 1,700 members, had reported that some healthcare workers were unable to go to work and said the government should clarify its plan “to ensure that all NHS personnel can get to their places. working safely during this fuel crisis. ” .
Five ambulance trusts – London Yorkshire, South East Coast, West Midlands and Wales – confirmed that they are currently fine for fuel supply, but urged people not to panic.
Some ambulance trusts have their own fuel supplies, although the Yorkshire Ambulance Trust confirmed that some colleagues had found it difficult to obtain fuel for their own vehicles.
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The Royal College of Nursing said health and care workers must take priority or patients could be at risk.
Patricia Marquis, Director of RCN England, said: “Nursing staff do valuable work, often traveling long distances to get to work or to see their patients in the community.
“Health and care services, already struggling with a widespread staff shortage, cannot afford to lose more staff because they cannot travel. We already know that some nursing staff are warning their employers that they may not be able to attend. tomorrow to ensure shifts can be staffed safely.
“In light of these supply issues, healthcare and care workers must be a priority or patient care will be compromised.”
John Apter, national president of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said the panic buying was putting pressure on the police.
He said: “Police officers have to go to gas stations to make sure people behave sensibly. They also have to come and go from their workplace, and this is increasingly inhibited as they struggle to charge. fuel in vehicles “.
“The government must urgently consider how my colleagues and other emergency workers can get the fuel they need to travel to and from work.”
Home care workers
The Home Care Association is calling for urgent priority to be given to home care and other essential workers on the garage esplanades.
Jane Townson, executive director of the Homecare Association, said: “There is only uneven prioritization of essential workers.
“In previous fuel strikes, local authorities have been able to arrange for scarce fuel to be prioritized for essential users.
“There is a question as to whether this needs the authority of the central government, under civil contingency legislation, to address the current problem. We call for this problem to be resolved urgently, as homecare workers need a quick solution to be able to reach the people who depend on their vital help. “
“The lack of communication from the government is not helping.”
And other workers?
The gas pump crisis has presented another problem for the troubled meat industry, as key personnel such as meat inspectors and veterinarians are beginning to have trouble getting to different locations.
It’s another headache for the industry that has already been hit by a shortage of CO2, which is used to stun animals before slaughter and vacuum packaging, and an exodus of foreign workers at slaughterhouses.
The British Association of Meat Processors said the latest problem so far had not led to a complete shutdown of any plants, but was “monitoring the situation very carefully”.
A spokesperson for the group said: “Aside from the obvious logistical problems with product deliveries between plants and supermarkets, faced by many manufacturers, the meat industry has additional but less obvious vulnerabilities to fuel shortages.
“There are a number of critical workers whose presence is relied upon to keep meat factories running. Meat inspectors are the people who physically seal each carcass to indicate that it is fit for human consumption so that it can enter the food chain. Veterinarians must be present to inspect operations from an animal welfare perspective and also sign critical documentation to certify that standards are being met.
“People who perform these roles often work in various meat plants over a wide geographic area. If any of these roles are absent due to their inability to get gasoline and travel to sites, production instantly slows down in direct proportion to time. I can not work.
“We have already heard reports from a couple of companies that they are losing some of these key workers. So far it has not caused a complete shutdown of any plants, but we are monitoring the situation very carefully.”
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the school leaders union NAHT, said: “The last thing we need is a major disruption to education given the experience of the last 18 months.
“Schools are still grappling with the ongoing challenges caused by COVID-19, so we hope that any further disruption caused by gasoline supply problems can be avoided.”
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society said pharmacies are still taking drug deliveries and told people to pick up their prescriptions as usual.
Professor Claire Anderson, President of the Society, said: “As usual, pharmacists are working with patients to make sure they get the medicines they need. We are not aware that fuel supply problems prevent patients from get their meds.
“If you have any concerns, please speak with your local pharmacist and his team, who can help and reassure you.”
Taxis and cars
The Travelhire Group, which operates Brunel and Green Tomato cars, warned of “a considerable portion of booking delays” in the coming days and warned customers to allocate time for delays.
The organization said: “In order to control fuel consumption and minimize the risk of vehicles being stranded, there are some long-distance reservations that we will not be able to fulfill. We will contact customers individually about those reservations.
“We encourage customers to share bookings when practical (up to 3 passengers in one car). When booking minivans, there may be times when we need to send two cars.”
Edmund King, AA president, said: “Millions of drivers changed their refueling habits this weekend, but once a tank is full, it cannot be refilled. This short-term increase in demand should decrease and Allow gas stations time to refuel Expect things to return to normal in the next few days.
“Drivers should also be careful because this weekend we have seen a dramatic increase in the lack of fuel (putting the wrong fuel) compared to last weekend. This, in turn, unnecessarily reduces the available fuel, already that the entire tank must be drained before filling with the correct fuel. “