Community nurses to lose car allowances
Exclusive by Flora Spilo
Community nurses have reacted with fury to the news that they are to be forced to travel to patients’ homes by bicycle.
An investigation by Nursing Times has revealed plans to abolish petrol allowances for all district and community nurses and health visitors in England. Instead PCTs will provide vouchers to be spent in cycle shops.
Josie Kita, director of expense disbursement at the Primary Care Accounting Agency, admitted that the plan may be unpopular with many nurses, but denied that it was simply a cost-cutting measure.
“There may be some cost efficiency benefits but the primary motivator was to improve staff wellbeing,” she told Nursing Times. “Cycling is an excellent way of keeping fit and will enable nurses to fit their exercise regime into their working day.”
“There will also be time savings in places with traffic congestion, where cycling is actually quicker than driving,” she added.
Rita Feyal, a community nurse in Northumberland, said the scheme would be unworkable in her rural area.
“It’s like we’re living in the film The Killing of Sister George. My patient appointments can be over 20 miles apart. It is ridiculous to expect me to cycle up to 80 miles a day. They haven’t thought this through. Even in urban areas, what will happen to people who aren’t able to cycle? And where will we keep our equipment?”
Ms Kita said nurses would be able to take cycling proficiency lessons, and that the PCCA would also fund secure panniers for equipment storage, as well as reflective red crosses and blue-light helmets for use in emergencies.
The agency is planning to pilot the scheme in two urban and two rural areas in summer, with country-wide roll-out by the end of the year.
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