finance

Fuel shortages – live: Health workers must be prioritised, No 10 told as army put on standby and prices soar



‘I’m only queuing because everybody else is’, says motorist amidst fuel panic buying

Health workers need to be prioritised during the current fuel crisis or patient care will be “compromised”, the government has been warned, amid reports of medical staff being unable to drive into work as pumps run dry across the country.

The British Medical Association (BMA) said “there is a real risk that NHS staff won’t be able to do their jobs”, while the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said healthcare services that are “already struggling” with staffing shortages “cannot afford to lose any more staff because they’re unable to travel”.

It comes after ministers announced on Monday that up to 150 military tanker drivers had been put on standby, ready to deliver fuel to petrol stations struggling to keep up with increased demand due to panic buying.

Meanwhile, petrol and diesel prices in the UK have reached an eight-year high amid the supply crisis, in what Simon Williams, an RAC fuel spokesman, described as a “bleak picture for drivers”.

The average price of a litre of petrol across the UK rose from 135.87p on Friday to 136.59p on Sunday, according to figures from the RAC – the highest that pump prices have been since September 2013.

Follow our live coverage on the situation below

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PM berated for ‘dodging the public’

Left-wing commentator Kevin Maguire, who is the Daily Mirror’s associate editor, has questioned why Boris Johnson remains silent on the fuel crisis.

Sam Hancock28 September 2021 08:41

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UK fuel crisis ‘direct consequence’ of Brexit, says Barnier

Some input from Europe now, where the union’s former chief negotiator Michel Barnier has said Britain’s mounting fuel crisis is a “direct consequence” of Brexit.

Mr Barnier, who is running for the French presidency, said the drastic shortage of lorry drivers and ongoing supply chain problems were down to the UK’s decision to quit the EU, reports Adam Forrest.

“Part of the answer is linked, effectively, to the consequences of the Brexit because the UK chose to end the freedom of movement [of people],” he said. “And there is a clear link to the truck drivers.”

Explaining the consequences of Britain leaving the single market, and having to rebuild non-tariff barriers between the EU and the UK as a result, Mr Barnier added the ongoing issues were “a direct and mechanical consequence of Brexit”.

Sam Hancock28 September 2021 08:36

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Panic buying remains across the country, says fuel chief

An industry boss has said the situation in Britain “disappointingly” remains much the same as it has over the past few days, with customers continuing to panic buy fuel supplies.

Brian Maddison, chairman of the Petrol Retailers Association, said due to the “number of outages at filling stations” panic buyers weren’t able to fill up as much as they had been – but were “still continuing to try and do so where possible”.

Explaining why there had been no change in people’s behaviour, Mr Maddison blamed social media. “As soon as a tanker arrives at a filling station, people on social media are advising that a tanker has arrived and then it’s like the Easter honey pot,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“Everyone flops there and then within a few hours, it’s out of stock again.”

Challenged by presenter Nick Robinson, who suggested customers may feel “it is not panic buying” when there is a “legitimate” reason to stock up, Mr Maddison said this was not correct.

“The average fill up is £25 across Britain, but customers are now going beyond the £100 mark – that is panic buying,” he said.

Sam Hancock28 September 2021 08:26

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Here’s more detail on soaring pump prices from Eleanor Sly:

Sam Hancock28 September 2021 08:12

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Pump prices soar to eight-year high amid fuel supply crisis

Unsurprisingly, increased and continued demand for fuel has sparked prices to skyrocket in the UK, where petrol costs are at an eight-year high.

The average price of a litre of petrol across the UK rose from 135.87p on Friday to 136.59p on Sunday, according to figures from the RAC. This is the highest that pump prices have been since September 2013. Meanwhile, the price of wholesale petrol has also risen from 123.25p on Monday September 20 to 125.22p just four days later, with the RAC warning that this could cause pump prices to rise further.

One service station in Wetherby, near Leeds, was charging 153.9p for unleaded on Monday.

Simon Williams, an RAC fuel spokesman, said: “With the cost of oil rising and now near a three-year high, wholesale prices are being forced up which means retailers are paying more than they were just a few days ago for the same amount of fuel.

“This has led to the price of a litre of unleaded already going up by a penny since Friday.”

He went on to say that prices could increase in the next few days, “irrespective of the current supply problems”, before adding: “We are also aware of a small number of retailers taking advantage of the current delivery situation by hiking prices.”

Sam Hancock28 September 2021 08:11

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Ministers order deployment of troops to deliver fuel within days

Government ministers have ordered the deployment of soldiers to distribute petrol and diesel within days, in a dramatic escalation of the national fuel crisis.

At an emergency meeting in Whitehall on Monday, ministers agreed to put military tanker drivers in a state of readiness to take the wheel of civilian tankers if normal conditions do not return swiftly.

Defence sources said that 75 drivers have been put on standby initially, with a further 75 along with 150 support staff available if needed, with several days of specialised training required before deployment, reports our political editor Andrew Woodcock.

Sam Hancock28 September 2021 08:04

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BMA demands ‘urgent action from government’

Following my last post, our politics reporter Adam Forrest writes:

British Medical Association (BMA)’s deputy chair Dr David Wrigley this morning called for “urgent action” from the government to give NHS and care workers priority at petrol forecourts.

“We have no information at all about how to get around this problem, if our fuel is running low and we have patients to see,” he told Sky News.

“We need urgent action today from the government,” said Dr Wrigley – suggesting that a plan could designate a local petrol in each area become a site for key workers. “We cannot continue like this.”

Sam Hancock28 September 2021 07:55

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Health bosses: Patient care ‘compromised’ if medical staff not given fuel first

Doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers, GPs, and just about any other medical profession you can think of, are at risk of missing work due to the petrol crisis, ministers have been warned, unless they are given preferential treatment when it comes to supplies.

Campaign group EveryDoctor said that at least one NHS organisation held an emergency meeting after staff were unable to make it into work.

A hospital consultant in Bedfordshire told the organisation, which represents 1,700 doctors: “We had an emergency discussion this morning. Two consultants in our department are out and can’t get to work. Two others on reserve. All four petrol stations within four miles of our hospital are closed with no fuel.”

Meanwhile, the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE) said it supported calls for healthcare workers to be prioritised for access to fuel to ensure they can get to work safely and on time.

Our science correspondent Samuel Lovett reports:

Sam Hancock28 September 2021 07:50

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Good morning, and welcome to The Independent’s rolling coverage of the fuel crisis as it continues to effect much of the UK. Stay tuned as we bring you the latest updates.

Sam Hancock28 September 2021 07:44



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