Health chiefs fear patients could be at risk as the fuel crisis stops NHS and emergency workers from doing their jobs properly.

Nurses, care workers, ambulance staff and police are among those who have been left stranded as pumps run dry due to a shortage of HGV delivery drivers.

Teachers have also been caught up in the chaos, sparing concerns schools may have to once again close.

Unions called on No10 to allow key workers to fill up first at petrol stations, as panic-buying continued yesterday.

And as Tories yet again blamed drivers for the crisis, there were warnings that foreign drivers are likely to snub ­Transport Secretary Grant’s Shapps’ offer of temporary visas to help ease the crisis.

GMB union national officer Rachel Harrison said: “During this completely avoidable crisis, petrol must be ­prioritised for those key workers who save lives and keep the country moving.”



Tom Bowles / Story Picture Agency)

UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea added: “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.”

The British Medical Association warned there was a “real risk NHS staff won’t be able to do their jobs”.

And the Royal College of Nursing said the fuel supply problems could lead to patient care being compromised. Bethany Kelly, a diabetes specialist nurse at the Solent NHS Trust, visited three petrol stations without luck.

And with only nine miles left in the tank, she found herself queuing for 40 minutes at a station rationing fuel to £10. Bethany managed to get £20 worth after showing her NHS badge.



Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

She said: “We work closely with community nurses, there’ll be going out to give insulin to patients and these patients can’t survive without it.”

Police officers were spotted jumping a queue at a petrol station in Hackney, East London.

The Met defended the move. It said: “We had to jump the queue, our cars are empty.”

On Saturday night an ambulance on an emergency call was filmed crashing into a car queuing outside pumps in Bromley, South London.

Paramedics had to swap details with the driver, delaying their vital journey.

George Eustice tried to blame drivers for the chaos, despite No10 being warned in June by road haulage chiefs that a HGV crisis was looming.

The Environment Secretary said: “The only reason we don’t have petrol on the forecourts is that people are buying petrol when they don’t need to.”

Up to 90% of filling stations in some parts are said to have now run dry.

Sales of jerry cans have soared as people try to stockpile fuel. There were reports of drivers following fuel tankers to garages.

Thieves even allegedly drilled holes in parked cars in Birmingham to steal fuel.

Surrey county council is considering declaring a major incident in response to the supply crisis.

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Leader leader Tim Oliver said it would give them “powers to ­prioritise key workers”.

Foreign drivers appear not be taking up Mr Shapps’ 12-week visa offer.

Edwin Atema of Dutch FNV union, which represents truckers, said: “The EU workers we speak to will not go to the UK for a short-term visa to help UK out of the sh*t they created.”

German haulage company boss Horst Kottmeyer, 59, added: “No one is going to just give up everything for a job that ends at Christmas.”

The fuel industry, including BP, Shell and Esso, yesterday stressed it was working with the Government to ensure there was enough fuel.

Supermarkets and other retailers insisted fuel stocks were arriving.

The shortage has ­triggered interest in electric cars, with reporting a 1,600% surge in searches.

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