Spokes, the UK’s National Health Service’s own staff cycling organisation, has recently criticised the National Health Service for failing to follow the Government’s own guidelines on encouraging healthy travel.
Expenses paid to staff cyclists were raised recently to just half of the level currently paid to civil servants and many other workers.
Spokes spokesman Mike Simpson said members were “bitterly disappointed at a wasted opportunity to help the NHS and its workforce.”
Nationally agreed business mileage rates for NHS staff were revised over the summer – including the bicycle mileage rate, designed to compensate cyclists for costs such as maintenance, insurance and depreciation. The standard NHS employment contract previously stipulated a minimum rate of 6.2p. Although raised to 10p, this is less than the increase for many categories of car mileage.
Mike Simpson, Co-ordinator of Spokes, described the move as “an extraordinary own goal which underlines the way that so much NHS ‘support’ for cycling is mere lip service. There is no overall promotion of sustainable transport in the NHS and many Trusts neither know nor care what cyclists need. Yet the few Trusts who actively encourage staff to cycle on short business journeys reap tremendous benefits: healthier employees, improved public health, less competition for car park spaces, reduced carbon emissions – and it saves the NHS money.”
BikeRadar has previously reported on an earlier Spokes survey which highlighted the fact that many local NHS trusts were paying cycling employees either the minimum amount stipulated in the contract or, in nearly a quarter of cases, refused to pay any bike mileage allowance at all, in direct contravention of the binding agreement with its staff.