Home Top Global NewsHealthcare ‘On the brink’: ambulance services in England face £14m rise in fuel bills | NHS

‘On the brink’: ambulance services in England face £14m rise in fuel bills | NHS

by Ozva Admin
‘On the brink’: ambulance services in England face £14m rise in fuel bills | NHS

Ambulance services across England face paying millions more in ever-rising fuel costs this year, amid warnings that the National Health Service it will face renewed pressures on wages, energy and construction costs in 2023.

Figures seen by the Observer reveal that each ambulance service in England expects to spend more than £1 million on fuel over the next year as inflation keeps biting. In general, the bill will increase by at least £14m in a single year.

NHS experts warned that some of the costs would have to be covered from existing budgets. There are also concerns about the uncertainty created by anticipated pressures on wages, energy and promised new rooms over the next year, despite the additional funding provided for the NHS in the autumn statement.

nine out of 10 ambulance services in England released figures under the Freedom of Information Act, revealing that their costs are forecast to rise to £69m from £55m in the current fiscal year. Hardest hit is the Yorkshire Ambulance Service, which will pay an additional £2.3m, with a total bill of £7.8m. The service with the highest total was West Midlands, with a projected bill of £9.5m, an increase of £1.8m. Daisy Cooper, the Lib Dem health spokeswoman who uncovered ambulance fuel costs, warned that some ambulance services were already “on edge”.

“All ambulance services are affected by a hugely inflated fuel bill, stretching vital funds even further,” he said. “The Conservative government is to blame: under their watch, fuel bills have skyrocketed. But the public should not have had to bear the bill for its failure. Our ambulance service is in dire need of whatever support it can get; Reducing these sky-high fuel bills by properly taxing the big oil and gas companies should be a priority.”

Jeremy Hunt, Chancellor of the United Kingdom
Jeremy Hunt, the chancellor, announced additional funding for the NHS in his autumn statement on 17 November. Photo: Tayfun Salci/Zuma Press Wire/Rex/Shutterstock

The West Midlands Ambulance Service has increased the efficiency of its fleet in a bid to keep costs down. A spokesman said: “All NHS organizations received additional funding from NHS England in 2022-23 to deal with non-wage inflationary pressures, but most of the cost increase had to come from domestic savings.”

A North West ambulance spokesman said an increase in incidents, the size of the area it covers and rising fuel prices had all contributed to the higher costs. However, they said the additional costs could be covered under the existing NHS funding arrangement.

The data reveals just one of the effects that inflation is expected to have on the health service in 2023. There are also concerns about the budget to rebuild some of the hospital buildings and the promised new wings given significant inflation in the costs of building. Annual inflation in the construction sector was around 10% in September. The forecasts anticipate a significant difference in the inflation rate used to calculate the health service budget, compared to the rate that affects the economy in general.

According to the Health The Foundation’s think tank, the “GDP deflator,” the figure used to calculate inflation rates in government departments, will be 4.9%. However, the consumer price index will be 10.1% – . Some experts consider a third measure, the consumer deflator, which comes in at 8.9%, to be the best measure for calculating the impact on service.

Stephen Rocks, an economist at the Health Foundation, said costs for the service were rising faster than anticipated. “The government has recognized this and provided additional funding in the fall declaration,” he said. “But while the NHS received this as sufficient to meet its ‘key priorities’, the health service remains under enormous pressure and other areas of investment are at risk.”

A government spokesman said the autumn declaration had provided up to £14.1bn in additional funding for the NHS and social care over the next two years. “We value the hard work of our ambulance service and have reduced their running costs through the £2.4bn fuel tax freeze, as well as an additional £150m of funding for NHS England in 2022-23 to help with pressures such as the increase in the price of fuel”, they said.

“Hospitals are already benefiting from the energy bill relief scheme, which will keep energy bills low for all public sector organizations until March. More broadly, our blueprint for the economy will help to more than halve inflation next year, tackling the root cause of the pressures facing the NHS.”

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