Doctors say that ongoing fuel crisis will impact healthcare services, particularly in London and the South East

by BMA media team

Press release from the BMA.

Location: England
Published: Monday 4 October 2021
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Nearly 70% of doctors who responded to a BMA survey1 are worried that the ongoing fuel crisis will have an impact on their work, with four in ten worried about staff absences rising to half of doctors voicing concern in London and the South East.  

The BMA survey of 2,084 doctors in England showed that over half have already had major problems refuelling their vehicles, with 57% feeling that these challenges will remain in place in the coming weeks. 

Respondents also said that because of the problems re-fuelling some staff were arriving late (45% of respondents said this had happened in their workplace) and 29% of doctors reported staff absences. 

There were some notable regional differences in the figures, with doctors in London and the South East the most concerned: 

  • 74% of doctors in London and 72% of respondents in the South East think they will have major problems refuelling their car in the next few weeks compared to 26% in North East and Yorkshire and 32% in North West.
  • 50% of doctors in London think that staff absences will occur next week compared to 24% in the North East and Yorkshire.
  • 65% of those in London felt that staff might arrive late due to bus delays because of queuing traffic around petrol stations compared to 28% in North East and Yorkshire.


Dr David Wrigley, BMA council deputy chair, said of the findings:  

“We asked the Government last week to prioritise access to fuel for emergency and essential workers and as yet there has been no affirmative action, leading to doctors telling us that their services will be disrupted as a result. 

“Our survey has shown that nearly 70% of doctors in England said they feared negative impacts at their place of work such as staff being late or not able to attend work at all as a result of problems with filling up their cars. This gives a very real possibility that some patients will miss out on their appointments. 

“We ask that immediate consideration is given to essential and emergency workers in this ongoing situation and that urgent guidance is issued to allow easier access to fuel.” 


Dr Christine Clayton, BMA South East regional council chair, added: 

“The problems with fuel are having an enormous impact, particularly because in some of the more rural surgeries where I work in Surrey, using a bus service is impossible because there isn’t one. I have no other option but to drive so unless we can access fuel, we cannot see our patients. 

“As I drive around the county, I’ve seen huge queues at all the petrol stations, with several noticeably devoid of both petrol and diesel. We must have priority access to fuel and fast.”


Notes to editors

The BMA is a professional association and trade union representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives. 

  1. 2,084 doctors in England took part in the BMA’s fuel survey between 1 and 4 October 2021. See the national and regional survey results for details of the questions we asked about access to fuel and any impact of a lack of access to fuel.