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Nurses being driven out of London by cost of housing, transport

Rising costs of housing and transport could threaten London’s world-leading hospitals, because nurses cannot afford to live in the capital, according to RCN London


Nurses cannot afford to live in London due to housing and transport costs,
according to RCN London. Picture: iStock

The rising cost of housing and transport could threaten London’s world-leading hospitals, because nurses cannot afford to live in the capital, according to RCN London.

Its research reveals that nurses working in London are on average living 2.25 miles further away from their workplace than they were in 2008.

Nurses are having to do a round-trip commute of about 27 miles, adding two to three hours to their day, in many cases on top of a 12-hour shift, according to the annual RCN London Housing Survey.

Lengthy journey times

RCN senior officer Mark Farmer said: ‘If the cost of the tube is too much nurses choose the bus, which means a journey of 13 miles is even longer. Even a five-mile trip by bus in London can take a long time.’

The RCN asked London mayor Sadiq Khan to consider a travel discount for nursing staff on Transport for London (TfL) services, as is given to the police, but he refused.

A spokesperson for the mayor said: ‘The decision to freeze all TfL fares for four years and introduce the Hopper fare is making travel more affordable for all Londoners.’

Struggles of lower paid

He said Mr Khan had voted against removing the nursing bursary and was working to ensure more ‘genuinely affordable housing’ was built to meet the needs of Londoners.

RCN London regional director Jude Diggins said: ‘It’s unacceptable that people work for 12 hours then have to travel for two or three hours and maybe do a school run or have other carer responsibilities on top.’

Ms Diggins said those on lower pay bands are struggling to afford to live in London, and senior nurses are leaving London to upsize their home and raise a family.

More job vacancies

On average there is one vacancy for every nine nursing posts in England, but in London it is one in six.

‘I just dread that in a couple of years’ time we’ll be saying we have one in five or one in four posts vacant, because that is the way we are going,’ said Ms Diggins.

RCN London is prioritising housing this year and is urging trusts to consider how many genuinely affordable homes developers propose to build before selling excess land to them.

The college has also stressed to employers the importance of staff hotels and keyworker accommodation.


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