Health unions say they are “disappointed and frustrated” that NHS managers in England and Northern Ireland have failed to agree to a temporary national increase in travel cost reimbursement to reflect the rising cost of fuel.
The NHS Staff Council says that after talks with both the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and NHS England and Improvement (NHSEI) “it has become clear that there is no prospect of central funding or a mandate to support a nationally negotiated solution in England”.
As a result, the Council says any increases in reimbursement “will need to be considered and made at the local employer level”.
The move was met with anger by staff side organisations, including the Society, who issued a joint statement calling the lack of a national agreement “unfair”.
“As trade unions we represent the whole NHS workforce. We know that due to increases in fuel prices and the effect of inflation the cost of motoring has increased for those who are required to use their own car (or a lease car) to deliver care to patients – particularly those in community roles.
“These economic pressures mean that the cost of delivering this care has gone up and these rising costs are impacting heavily on the NHS workforce. This is not fair, especially given the delay in the 2022/23 NHS pay rise,” said the statement.
The unions point out that national increases have been agreed in Scotland and Wales, making the situation in England and Northern Ireland even more inequitable.
“The NHS in Scotland and Wales have reached an agreement to increase their reimbursement rates by 5p. So, we are continuing to call for the NHS in England and Northern Ireland to raise their reimbursement rates too,” they say.
In the meantime, they are issuing guidance to workplace representatives on how best to put the case for locally agreed increases in reimbursement rates.
The SOR is calling on its IR representatives to discuss this issue with employers at local partnership forum meetings to argue for a temporary increase in the rate.
Click here for the NHS Council joint statement on the reimbursement of travel costs in England.