Petrol: Birmingham doctor forced to hitchhike to work after panic buyers drain fuel pumps

ITV News Central Reporter Rosie Dowsing reports on the number of filling stations in the Midlands running dry due to panic buying over recent days

As queues continue to form at petrol stations across the Midlands, the government are urging people to return to their normal buying patterns.

A doctor from Birmingham has told ITV News Central she has had to hitchhike just to get to work in Hereford. She said she broke down on her journey because she couldn't fill her car up with diesel fuel.

Dr Claire Gardner said: "I drove past nine empty petrol stations, including the services on the M5 and then just as I was coming towards Hereford, basically ran out of diesel."

'I ended up hitching a lift with a stranger because I couldn't get fuel', doctor in Birmingham says

Dr Gardner said: "I had to abandon my car. I phoned two taxi companies, was told it was doubtful, but it would be a very long time before a taxi would be able to come.

"So I ended up hitching a lift with a stranger."

"You don't want to let people down, I've got colleagues who'd be wondering where I am and I don't want to put upon them to take over my duties if I'm not there," she added.

The British Medical Association said health workers should be given priority amid these supply concerns.

Nursing union Royal College of Nursing has called for key workers to be prioritised for fuel.

The union's England director Patricia Marquis said: "We already know some nursing staff are warning their employers they may not be able to attend tomorrow to ensure shifts can be safely staffed.

“In light of these supply problems, health and care workers need to be a priority or patient care will be compromised."

Meanwhile, West Midlands Ambulance Service told us they have their own fuel supplies and luckily have not been affected.

Chaddesley Garage in Kidderminster has held a late-night opening for key workers struggling to fill up their tanks.

They have plenty of fuel because it's the only outlet for fuel company Callow Oils which has its own stocks and delivery drivers

'There is actually no shortage of fuel, so we are able to react and keep things supplied'

Manager of Chaddesley Garage, Kevin Hughes, said his company are not facing a shortage of fuel.

He said: "We do have our own tankers and we have our own drivers, and we have the ability to buy from different places. There is actually no shortage of fuel, so we are able to react and keep things supplied."

"There's a lot of people working very long shifts, and when you finish one of those, the last thing you want to do is queue for petrol or it is sometimes actually quite antisocial hours when some petrol stations aren't open anyway."

"So we thought it would be a good idea to set aside a little bit of time for that, where they can come in. Hopefully, the queues are a little shorter, but at least it's guaranteed that they're going to be able to get in."

Elsewhere, Hampson Haulage in West Bromwich has nine vacancies alone for drivers. They say that more support is needed and drivers should be paid enough to reflect the difficult work they do.

The Government says it's creating 5,000 temporary visas for foreign lorry drivers in a bid to help make up the shortfall and has suspended competition laws between oil firms to ease fuel deliveries. 

While that could be a longer-term solution, the short term answer remains. Drivers are told not to fill up, unless they're running on empty.