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Cost of housing is driving nurses out of London says survey

RCN joins forces with employers to call for next mayor to take urgent action

The RCN is urging that whoever becomes the next mayor of London should prioritise housing for health workers. The plea comes after an RCN survey revealed 40% of nurses expect to leave the capital in the next five years.

The college has joined forces with major hospital trusts and NHS Employers to highlight the issue as a further 79% of NHS staff expressed serious worries about the cost of accommodation.

The figures come from a survey of RCN members in London carried out in November last year which had 1,399 respondents.

Nurses in the capital say their pay has fallen by about 14% in real terms since 2010 when the government decided to impose a freeze on salaries.

Elections to replace Boris Johnson as mayor of London will be held on May 5 with 12 candidates in the running.

Whoever wins the election will be asked to:

  • Reintroduce and strengthen London’s key worker housing regulations
  • Require all new homes built on land owned by the NHS to be offered first to low-paid NHS staff
  • Offer discounted travel for healthcare staff in London.

A total of 75% of nurses surveyed said they would stay in London if these needs were met.

While all the manifestos from the main political parties contain promises about health, transport and housing, only Labour’s Sadiq Khan’s has specifically pledged to help London trusts improve staff recruitment and retention.

He has also pledged to review the provision of bus services to hospitals.

Meanwhile Green party hopeful Sian Berry promises to make housing policy an integrated part of her party’s strategy for health.

RCN London regional director Bernell Bussue said: ‘With staffing shortages in London getting worse by the year, while patient need continues to go up, essential services are being stretched to breaking point.

‘The new mayor needs to show real leadership and ensure that nursing staff are able to live and work here in the numbers needed to keep patients safe.’

NHS Employers chief executive Danny Mortimer added: ‘This important survey reinforces the problems trusts have in recruiting and retaining staff in London where housing costs continue to rise.’

Director of nursing and clinical quality at Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust Claire Champion welcomed the survey and said it valued its locally-based workforce and wanted them ‘to have the opportunity to build lifelong careers living and working in our capital city.

‘Sadly too many nurses feel a career in London is not a viable option for them, and are leaving in order to afford homes that suit their long-term needs.’

For a full list of mayoral candidates click here

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