Key workers share 'unnecessary and frustrating' impact of panic-buying

Key workers share the impact panic-buying has had on them

Key workers share the impact panic-buying has had on them. Pictured is carer Amy Winton and emergency service tyre provider Stewert McCafferty - Credit: ARCHANT STAFF

From having to sleep at work to missing vital medical appointments – hundreds of people across the county have been hit hard following the panic-buying of fuel. 

As queues continued to form outside many filling stations throughout the weekend, many reported running out of petrol and diesel completely while the emergency services assisted those most in need on the forecourts.

But what has been the knock-on effect to the county’s most vulnerable? 

Dozens of individuals shared their fears and concerns – in particular key workers. 

Aylsham market place.
PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Karen Powley, manager of Mount Care Home in Aylsham (pictured is the town's market place), said staff were struggling to get into work - Credit: © ARCHANT NORFOLK PHOTOGRAPHIC

Karen Powley is the manager of Mount Care Home in Aylsham and said the staff were struggling to get fuel to get into work. 

She said: “We have given staff the option to use the spare rooms here at the home, and also we have local staff that are willing to let other staff sleep at their own homes to save on fuel.  


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“It's a good job that people are able to mix within other households now. All of the garages have sold out around here.” 

Jade Bowdidge, of Lowestoft, travels to Norfolk every day to work as a Covid-19 vaccinator. Not only has she been unable to get to work but she is also registered disabled. 

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"It’s caused all sorts of issues.  

“It means I cannot get to my physio appointment, to enable me to keep strong and stay working. I also won’t get medication injections to help with my conditions.”

Stewert McCafferty

Stewert McCafferty - Credit: SUBMITTED

Stewart McCafferty, 22, of Lowestoft, is the assistant manager for STS Tyre Pro that supplies and fits tyres for all types of vehicles including emergency service vehicles. 

He travels from Lowestoft to Norwich daily. 

“I’ve tried a few stations but either was empty or there were queues for miles. I made it to work today but only have 60 miles in my car. 

“It’s also frustrating because my dad’s also very ill and isn’t driving at the moment after losing my granddad. I come home and drive for my mum and nan too to get shopping and things.” 

Amy Winton

Amy Winton - Credit: SUBMITTED

Amy Winton, of Stalham, is a carer who works with a small group of carers in the area. 

She said: “We have no fuel in the area. At the moment we have all managed to make it to work but if it keeps happening, I don’t know what we’ll do. 

“There’s a good chance at least one of us may not be able to work.” 

Carer Stacey Chilton, of Norwich, echoed those concerns but added that she felt for everyone who had to drive to work. 

“Whatever the job, bills need to be paid.  

“My concern is people who need emergency services or care will not get it due to panic-buying. I work in the care sector and we are already busy. People not being able to work due to no fuel is unnecessary, especially with staff shortages.” 

Another carer, who wanted to be named only as Sophie, of Ormesby, said: “I’m a carer and travel 24 miles to my work. I now have 90 miles left in my car and I am worried that I cannot get fuel into my car over the weekend for my extra shift on Monday.  

The 26-year-old added: “If I cannot get the fuel over the weekend then I may not be able to go in. My manager has asked me to be a team leader on Monday but even my local garage has no fuel at all. 

“Our care home is already short on staff. Fortunately, we do have new staff starting very soon but at the moment we have to rely on agency staff to come and support.

"Quite a few of them live far away so it will be difficult for them if they do not have enough petrol, like me, to get to work. We do have a few carers that live locally but they might not be able to work extra next week.” 

And it was not just carers who have been affected. 

Nick Ramos, 36, of Brandon, is a driver for Hermes and said he was unable to do his delivery round and that the situation had been “stressful”. 

“I haven’t had a response from my field manager but I've not been able to service my round at all.” 

The government continues to reassure people that there is no fuel shortage, and has urged people not to panic-buy.

What else have you been saying?

This paper has been inundated with comments from its readers. Here is just a handful are some of your thoughts:

Leo, an NHS worker in north Norfolk, said: “My trip to work from Norwich is 45min each way. I often have to go in the community for work. I have half a tank of petrol that should last me until Thursday. I didn't panic yet but the concern that I will have to use public transport by then is real and it would take me multiple hours to get to work.” 

A community nurse, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “The chaos around fuel is ridiculous. I work in a community nursing team as well as the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH). I have multiple friends who have been in tears because they simply cannot get to work and have spent their weekend trying to source fuel so they could get to work.  

“There are already talks next week of us having to do essential visits to patients in the community only, meaning others will be left without care of a nurse.  

“People need to think about their selfish behaviour, because those same selfish people will be the ones complaining about the NHS, and why their loved one didn’t get a visit from the community nurse all week.” 

Maxine Mckernan, an equine transporter, said: “My business relies on fuel to get me and people's horses, about including emergency vet trips and recovering horses from broken down vehicles. It's affecting us in a huge way as I'm guessing it is with other transporters.  

“I was close to being stuck the other side of London yesterday and had tried six different fuel stations to no avail but luckily found one after running on red for nearly 20 minutes. Scary stuff.” 

Final year medical student, Neeve, is currently on placement at the NNUH. 

She said: “I haven’t been able to get any fuel this weekend, I wish they would reserve a lane for key workers. It’s really unfair that these selfish people are filling up.” 

Sammy Stanford is a reablement support worker doing home assessments for Norfolk County Council. 

She said: “So far I have been unable to fill up with fuel in Cromer, Roughton, Alby, Aylsham, and North Walsham.  

“My work entails home assessments for those who have been in hospital or rehab wanting to live independently back in their own homes. I am disgusted.

"People panic-buying are being selfish. I'm sure they the first to complain when their loved one cannot be supported because we can’t get fuel.” 

Mitul Thakrar, in Catton, delivers medicine to patients from Woodgrove Pharmacy. She has been making her deliveries on foot and she has been unable to get fuel. 

Mark Frosdick, who works for a production company in Loddon and lives in north Norfolk, said: “I called my wife to say I probably won’t be home to see her or my children this weekend and I would have to sleep in my car at a petrol station.

"Luckily I managed to get fuel from the Shell garage in Newmarket with zero miles left.” 

Another key worker, who wanted to remain anonymous, said: “Yes I have been affected by the panic buyers. I am domiciliary care, I have 80 miles left in my car, and need to get to my vulnerable ladies and gents as of Monday to distribute meds that are in a locked cupboard. 

“These ladies and gents could be in an awful state without medication. One lady in particular.  

“I am actually disgusted with the local people who think having a full fuel tank is important to get either their child to school – walking distance – or for people to have their cars full in a driveway 'just in case’, all for the sake of scaremongering idiots.” 

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