Carers ‘unable to make rounds’ and forced to prioritise patients

The director of IRC Care Services in Surrey said she was in the office until 9pm on Monday night “trying to organise my troops to see if we can still cover the most vulnerable people”.

“There has been severe delays. We are trying to make priorities so that the ones with the most severe needs, we get to them somehow,” Ms Hamujuni-Smith told The Independent.

Carers have been “unable to make their rounds” and forced to prioritise patients as they struggle to get fuel amid national shortages, according to providers.

The government has been urged to find a way to get carers to avoid queues at stations as pumps run dry.

Beatrice Hamujuni-Smith, who runs a home care service, said carers were “busy looking for fuel” over the weekend instead of working.

She added: “I don’t know how long we can keep going without phoning in and saying we can’t do it anymore. This isn’t sustainable. “

Tina Jones, who is a care worker in Maidenhead, said the fuel shortages had been an “absolute nightmare” for her.

“I visited eleven petrol stations and was unsure at the time that I would actually be able to do my essential work last night to support my customers in the care industry,” she told the BBC’s Today programme.

She said she managed to get £15 worth in jerry cans after her car ran out of fuel.

Shaleeza Hasham of CHD Care at Home, a home care service, said: “Many of our carers are unable to get enough fuel to make their rounds as most petrol stations are limiting them to £30.”

She added: “Carers can do up to 100 miles per day so these restrictions mean that they are having to fuel up more often as they cannot fill their tanks.

“We look after extremely vulnerable individuals, some of whom cannot even get out of bed without support or assistance, and the situation is proving extremely difficult and stressful.

“Being unable to get to clients who depend on us just isn’t an option.”

Ms Hasham backed calls for key workers to be prioritised for fuel amid the national shortages, which have seen huge queues at pumps and stations having to shut.

Dr David Wrigley from the British Medical Association said there needed to be a plan in place to ensure NHS and care workers can get fuel they need during the crisis.

“I know many of my health and social care working colleagues will be getting into the car this morning, nervously looking at the fuel dial and wondering if they’ve got enough fuel to do their day-to-day work,” he said.

“We can’t be waiting two or three hours in a queue for fuel when we have patients to see.”

He suggested one workaround could be to designate fuel stations to critical workers.

Labour has called on the government to give health and care workers priority at petrol pumps amid the fuel shortage.

Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow health secretary, told BBC Radio 4’s World at One: “We are facing a crisis, because if doctors and nurses and midwives and care assistants can’t get to the bedsides of their patients, then people will be left stranded, people will be left in the most desperate of circumstances, some people could end up losing their lives.”

An education union has also called on teachers tohave priority access to fuel amid supply issues or risk further disruption to children’s education.

The government announced on Monday it was putting troops on standby to drive petrol tankers as filling stations in many parts of the country continued to run dry.

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