Mark Drakeford holds 'urgent talks' to ensure healthcare staff have enough fuel

Mark Drakeford speaks to Adrian Masters at the Labour Party conference

The First Minister says urgent talks are being held to make sure that there's enough fuel for nurses, doctors and teachers and that what is available is "fairly distributed across Wales."

Mark Drakeford says Welsh Government officials are looking at convening an emergency group to take those steps in the wake of a crisis which has seen long queues and closed forecourts. 

Speaking at the Labour party conference in Brighton, he told ITV Wales Political Editor Adrian Masters that the steps can be taken quickly as soon as it's clear what action the UK Government is taking. 

Diesel ran out at a Cardiff Asda amid the panic buying. Credit: Liam Ketcher

He said: "Although I'm in Brighton, I've been in discussions this morning with Welsh Government officials. They are talking this morning with the UK Government and with BEIS (The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) to make sure we understood the plans that they are putting in place.

"One of the great things we have on our side in Wales is that we can usually do things quickly. There's not many people you have to contact; we can do that as quickly as is necessary.

"We need to understand before we do the basis from which we will be working, what is the UK government's plan, how do they intend to deal with the crisis that they have, they have presided over in one of the most basic things that our country has to rely on to keep going."

ITV Wales reporter Sion Jenkins speaks to drivers queuing for petrol in Cardiff

His comments come after the British Medical Association (BMA) put out a plea to give healthcare workers priority access to fuel.

The BMA estimates that between 50 to 90 per cent of petrol stations are without fuel.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said: "Emergency and essential workers rely on fuel both to travel to work and for their work itself – whether this is to get to hospitals, practices and other healthcare settings, or for ambulances to reach people in urgent need of care and GPs to visit very ill patients at home.“Everyone will have their own reasons for needing to fill up, but as pumps run dry there is a real risk that NHS staff won’t be able to do their jobs, and provide vital services and care to people who urgently need it.

“While the Government has said it is putting plans in place to alleviate the shortage of HGV drivers to transport fuel, the results of this won’t be immediate. Healthcare and essential workers must therefore be given priority access to fuel so they can continue their crucial work and guarantee care to patients.”

Lee Brooks, Director of Operations at the Welsh Ambulance Service, said: “The Trust has a plan in place to continue to deliver a service in the event of a disruption to fuel supply.

"We’re working closely with our partners, including government, to better understand the picture across Wales and mitigate any risks as they arise.”

South Wales Police has said services are being delivered "as usual" and that fuel shortages has not had an effect on the force.

A spokesperson said: "Queuing outside petrol stations may obstruct the highway for other road users. Keeping highways clear is essential for emergency services, and other public service functions. Hindering them poses a public safety risk.

"We would encourage the owners of filling stations to ensure that their forecourts are orderly and safe."

Motorists queue up to buy petrol at Asda Leckwith Road in Cardiff. Credit: ITV Wales

Fuel shortages at petrol station forecourts have been caused by people panic-buying, not by a shortage of HGV drivers, a top minister has said - and soldiers are not being called up to drive tankers.

Environment Secretary George Eustice called on motorists to return to their normal pattern of purchasing as he denied there are plans for soldiers to drive Heavy Good Vehicles.

“The most important thing is that people buy petrol as they normally would. There isn’t a shortage. There have been some shortages of HGV drivers getting petrol to forecourts but actually that is quite limited,” he told broadcasters.

Asked about reports of the army being drafted in to reduce the shortage of drivers, Mr Eustice said there are “no plans at the moment” to use the Army to drive petrol tankers.

Meanwhile, the lead singer of rock band The Charlatans, Tim Burgess, tweeted his fans asking where he can fill up ahead of his performance in Cardiff tonight.

The singer is currently on a solo tour of the UK and is making his way from the Lake District to the Welsh capital amid the current fuel shortage.

He later tweeted to say he'd found some diesel and was heading "onwards".