NHS should build homes for nurses to help recruitment

Nurses struggling with the cost of living could have a welcome boost if a plan for 40,000 NHS staff homes gains support.

Nurses struggling with the cost of living would be among NHS staff to benefit from a proposal to build 40,000 NHS homes on unused land.

An NHS trust in Kent provides staff housing for rent at below the market rate Image: Alamy

The idea was in the NHS Confederation's 'election manifesto' manifesto, published ahead of the general election, and being championed on the eve of the organisation's conference this week.

Speaking before Confed17 in Liverpool on 14-15 June, chief executive Niall Dickson urged the government to consider a £10 billion programme to build staff housing on unused NHS land.

Barrier to recruitment 

The organisation writes: 'There is a serious shortage of affordable housing and the cost of poor-quality housing on the NHS is estimated to be at least £1.4 billion a year. It creates a major issue for NHS organisations looking to recruit and retain staff. This is particularly noticeable in London and the south east.'

The NHS Confederation's idea is to adapt Department of Health plans to build 26,000 homes on unused health service land, and recommendations in the Naylor report, published in March, that £2.7 billion in NHS assets be sold and 40,000 homes built.

'For NHS staff only'

Mr Dickson's idea is to make sure homes go to NHS staff, rather than private investors.

'There are certain kinds of staff we have a real difficulty trying to recruit and there’s no doubt if you were able to offer accommodation it would make a post a lot more attractive,' he said.

'If you ask people running hospitals in London, large numbers of their staff don’t live locally and have to travel significant distances.'

Some NHS organisations already provide rented accommodation for staff. East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust has the Nightingale Residences, beside the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital, in Margate.

It charges a single occupant less than £400 a month for a fully furnished flat, more than £100 below the local market price.

Follow Nursing Standard's reports from Confed17

Read the NHS Confederation's manifesto

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