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Stingy allowances drive us to distraction

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There is only so much that the NHS can throw at its workforce before we rebel and, when it involves money, tensions are heightened even more

As the whole country is aware, petrol prices are rocketing. Although as a community midwife I receive a petrol allowance, I and my colleagues have not had an increase in the allowances since June 2003. Between August 2000 and June 2003, my allowances varied between 6.5p and 9.88p per mile (driving a leased car) while the petrol prices varied between 73p and 82p per litre.
In September 2003, I bought my own vehicle and have been paid 33.5p per mile since. The allowance has never changed. Petrol prices at that time were 74p per litre.
In April last year, I rang the Royal College of Midwives and spoke to their employment relations department. They told me that a claim for a rise in petrol allowance was put to the pay review body in 2005–2006 but it was turned down by management. The unions were told that ‘motoring costs’ had come down therefore things had ‘evened out’.
Well, my colleagues and myself have increasing car insurance, increasing repair costs, not to even mention the vandalism that we routinely suffer in our working area of inner-city Salford. Nothing seems to have evened out for us. And the final straw is that the cost of petrol is now in excess of £1 per litre.
The situation is no longer tenable. The NHS survives on the goodwill of its workers, many of whom, like myself and my colleagues, work extra unpaid hours ensuring our patients are cared for, never-ending paperwork is completed and the service is maintained. And a below-inflation pay rise? You’re having a laugh. Except I don’t find it funny.
Is there anyone out there who can help?

Carole Waterhouse, community midwife, Salford

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