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Eastbourne & Willingdon Lib Dems

NHS volunteer drivers hit by rising cost of fuel

July 9, 2008 6:05 AM

photoThe rising cost of fuel is hitting many people hard. However, one important local group is facing a particular challenge. The NHS has a long history of utilising volunteers to ferry patients to and from hospitals, GP surgeries and day centres. All of these are under threat due to the skyrocketing cost of fuel.

Stephen Lloyd, Liberal Democrat parliamentary campaigner said: "I was recently contacted by a volunteer driver who told me that despite the price of fuel going up sharply over the last few months they are still entitled to only 40 pence per mile. The rising cost at the pump has meant that many of the drivers are now actually losing money. Though they provide this service gladly and do not expect to make a profit it is becoming harder and harder for some to continue."

Stephen added: "I shall be writing to the local NHS Trust's asking that they re-evaluate their fuel payments to ensure the valuable and much used service provided by volunteers does not crack under the strain."

"Apparently nurses and other staff have recently had an increase in their tax free mileage rate from 40p to 44p to compensate for the rising cost of fuel, so it is only fair that the volunteer drivers receive the same amount."

"The impact on our local health service if these volunteers begin to drop out because they can no longer afford it would be catastrophic. Not least as it would mean an increased use of our already hard-pressed ambulance service. I will be urging all the NHS Trusts who serve Eastbourne and the surrounding area to look again at the current volunteer driver fuel allowance before it is too late."