Readers’ letter: Plight of volunteer drivers

In reply to a letter in the Citizen March 13 from Karen Gathercole. The NHS has only itself to blame for the difficulties they have regarding the transporting of patients.

Because until a couple of years ago, they had plenty of volunteer drivers using their own cars to do a lot of this work, freeing ambulances for the more serious emergencies and patients who really need them. While volunteers don’t expect to make a profit doing this, they were at least paid enough to cover motoring costs. But these costs have soared, especially over the last two years, with drivers finding it was costing them more and more than they could afford, bearing in mind most of them were probably pensioners who had time to spare and were willing to give it for a good cause.

But the various Trusts within the NHS were allowed to set their own mileage allowances, within NHS guidelines and some failed to face reality by not paying drivers the true costs of motoring. Although for some reason they have recently raised them after two years by 0.5p a mile from 37p to 37.5p which includes a 5p allowance for passengers. Unless the NHS faces the true facts of life and has a national strategy which Trusts are unlikely to change, matters will only get worse until they have no volunteer drivers at all.

Harry Smith

volunteer driver for ten years