Critical workers could be given exclusive access to petrol pumps under an emergency plan to ease the fuel crisis.

Government sources said designating certain stations for key workers is being kept as a back-up option if panic buying does not stop.

Nurses, care workers, teachers, ambulance staff and police are among those who have been left stranded in recent days as pumps across the country run dry.

The crisis, blamed on a shortage of HGV drivers who can deliver fuel, has sparked a frenzy as two-mile queues build up around forecourts and people try to stockpile petrol.

On Monday Boris Johnson faced calls from NHS groups, unions, medical bodies, Tory MPs and the opposition to make sure doctors, nurses and other key workers get fuel first.

Sources told The Telegraph that ministers hope the petrol crisis will be alleviated without the need for further measures.

However, options such as designating petrol stations for key workers and a purchase cap would be held in reserve as backup options.

This is in line with The National Emergency Plan for fuel, which outlines the 10 steps that could be taken in a crisis scenario.

Published by the Government in January last year, the emergency measures include granting key workers ‘priority access’ to pumps and limiting the amount drivers can spend on petrol.

Some steps have already been implemented, including lifting competition laws so drivers can deliver petrol to rival businesses.

Another option is the designated filling station scheme, which would mean ’emergency and critical service vehicles’ are given priority.

The move was taken by former Prime Minister Tony Blair during the fuel crisis in 2000.

Ministers are facing calls to enact it again following warnings patient safety is at risk because frontline staff can’t get to work.

EveryDoctor, a health group representing nearly 2,000 doctors, said it had been told that two consultants had been unable to get to their hospital in Bedford because they had no fuel.

The doctors said all four stations within four miles of the workplace were closed.

Meanwhile The British Medical Association warned there was a ‘real risk NHS staff won’t be able to do their jobs’ unless they are given priority access.

Christina McAnea, general secretary of health union Unison said: ‘Ambulance crews, nurses, care workers, teaching assistants, police staff and other key workers mustn’t be left stranded or forced to queue for hours simply to get to a pump.’

While prioritising key workers is being kept as an option, it is not part of the immediate plan to tackle the crisis.

Ministers have blamed panic buying on the shortage and say there are signs this is starting to ‘moderate’.

Ten fuel companies also issued a joint statement on Monday saying they expected demand to ‘return to normal levels in the coming days’.

The appeal for calm came after the Petrol Retailers’ Association warned that 90% of stations in some areas had run out of fuel, bin collections were cancelled in some areas and teaching unions said that schools might have to return to online learning if teachers could not get to the classroom.

Army tanker drivers are currently being trained to deliver petrol  in an attempt to ease shortages.

But some local authorities may act independently to take on their own measures.

Surrey County Council’s leader Tim Oliver said last night that he might declare a ‘major incident’ to grant priority access for fuel to key workers.

It comes amid warnings the crisis will drag on due to the lack of HGV drivers, with plans for 5,000 temporary visas for foreign drivers rubbished by industry insiders.

A union leader said yesterday that European lorry drivers will not return to the UK to get the country ‘out of the s*** they created themselves’.

There is estimated to be a shortfall of 100,000 HGV drivers, caused by long-term workforce shortages, Covid and Brexit.

Petrol Retailers Association chairman Brian Madderson said: ‘We think it’s going to go on for at least a further week, maybe ten days.

‘The problem we’ve got is there are a finite number of tankers that can carry fuel and a finite number of drivers.

‘There will be some respite because the cars of panic buyers are full…but I can’t see a quick fix.

‘It’s going to take a long while to get back to normal where all forecourts have the right amount of fuel.’

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