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Northumbria Healthcare Foundation Trust

Union attacks trust for district nurse mileage rate cut


The union Unite has said Northumbria Foundation Trust “could face a legal challenge” after nearly halving the mileage paid to some of its staff.

Staff who were employed in Northumbria and North of Tyne community services – which have been transferred to the foundation trust – will have their travel reimbursement rate cut from 47p a mile to 24p a mile from April.

Foundation trust staff who did not transfer with the community services were already on the 24p a mile rate.

Unite said in a statement that the lower rate was based on the assumption “NHS professionals should be using trains and buses to visit patients and clients in a predominately rural area”, rather than their own vehicle.

The union’s regional officer Martin Wright said: “I am very disappointed that management are imposing this after a failure to [reach agreement] with the trades unions.

“This is being imposed unilaterally. They are offering the lease car option for staff, instead of paying the proper private mileage rate, but that may not be suitable or financially feasible for everyone.”

He added: “If the trust presses ahead with this, it could face a legal challenge for unlawful deduction of wages at an employment tribunal.

“Northumberland is a very rural county and many health staff need their cars to do their jobs. At a time when, petrol prices are at a record high and the cost of motoring entering the realms of the prohibitive, the trust’s plans are unacceptable.”

Mr Wright claimed it would “cost our members hundreds of pounds a year just to do their jobs”.

Unite national officer for health Barrie Brown added: “This proposal will be to detriment of health staff, and ultimately, the patients they serve, and be contrary to the letter and spirit of the national Agenda for Change [pay and terms] agreement.”

A spokeswoman for the trust said the lower rate was based on an accurate assessment of the cost of travel, so it could not justify paying any more. She also said the trust did not want its previous staff and community service newcomers to be on different rate.


Readers' comments (6)

  • In an effort to cut costs mileage paid is limited. The NHS is being underwritten my community staff who pay more to keep their vehicles on the road than they receive in mileage payments. After a set number of miles per annum mileage is paid as a "public transport" rate. Currently, one NHS trust pays 0.2260p per mile. This does not even cover the cost of petrol used and using a leased car the remuneration is even less! Between this and the freezing of pay is it any wonder staff moral is so low.

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  • My regular user allowance was cut last year, because my mileage was under the set limit. However, I covered a large geographical area which had an impact on the wear and tear of my car. I lost £50 a month just like that out of my wages. As a single parent on part time wage this had a huge impact on my quality of life.

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  • It is evident that those who have made this decision have no idea what community nursing involves.

    The only logical step forward if management do not see sense, is to travel for their work by public transport - preferrably accompanied by the office staff who made the decision. In my patch I might get one or even two visits done on a good day, but I'm not too sure how I'd get to patients in a timely fashion or if I had to take in controlled drugs etc. Patient facing time will plumet - as will staffing levels.

    We have been subidising the NHS for transport for decades. There have only been two increases in mileage allowences in the last 15 years as far as I can remember.

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  • Jill Rakowski | 29-Jan-2012 4:20 pm

    I am not a community nurse but have every sympathy as I live in at the foot of the Alps where this type of service really works and is excellent and fully comprehensive and covered by basic insurance.

    I have often seen adverts and would have applied long ago if I was a car driver and owner. one of the prerequisites is driver with own car.

    It must be well paid and with good allowances as I see quite a few of the nurses driving around in BMWs, Mercedes, Audis, etc.

    I admire their approach to and excellent support they give to their patients despite time constraints and they are all highly trained.

    Judging by the mountain roads here in winter and the large area each is required to cover, with a lot of outlying farms and chalets, they must also have excellent driving skills. they also provide a 24 hour and emergency service. Snow tyres are required by law during the winter months and when villages are totally cut off they have to resort to helicopter rescue services for any emergencies requiring hospitalisation. A friend and ex-colleague of mine, an HCA, had to deliver her neighbour's baby as the midwife couldn't get to their village!

    As well as nurses the service also includes visiting social workers and HCAs. the HCAs will help with basic care, housework, shopping, accompanying a patient or elderly person outside the home or meeting other needs.

    I think it is appalling that nurses,
    not only in hospital through overtime, but also those working in the community, are subsidising the NHS and they still do not have enough money and resources to run an adequate service. it seems to me that one of the problems is that it is far too fragmented and with too many gaps in care.

    In the UK, with the current costs of petrol and running a car, it is despicable. In rural areas trying to get about on public transport is totally impractical and especially in bad weather and in winter when there is snow on the ground. patients would suffer and a delayed visit could even be fatal.

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  • yeah right public transport.

    With buses running on time(!)
    With a large area to cover
    Will the trust pay out in advance the travel costs (?)
    What if youo got to take controlled drugs, injection, carry samples with you???

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  • How many other essential services have to provide their own transport and be out of pocket for the privelage ? I wonder what would happen if police officers had to provide their own panda cars ?

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