NHS calls on London Mayoral candidates to prioritise housing and transport for staff

nurse and patient

NHS calls on London Mayoral candidates to prioritise affordable housing and transport for staff across the capital 

The London NHS Partnership and NHS Employers today warn that many NHS staff are being forced to leave posts and move further out of London amidst rising living and transport costs in the capital. This is leaving London NHS Trusts struggling to attract and retain key workers needed to ensure safety for patients. 

Today, the group are calling for the London Mayoral candidates to show a commitment to making the capital a feasible home for NHS staff in their upcoming manifestos. 

NHS organisations and trade unions have analysed the postcodes of more than 100,000 NHS staff between 2010 and 2015 which showed more staff are moving out of London to live and work. During this time, transport costs rose by 25% and average house prices rose by 37%, 11 times the average NHS London salary.

Last year research from the Royal College of Nursing highlighted 10,000 nursing vacancies in London which could rise to 25 per cent by 2020. NHS Employers and the London NHS Partnership are calling on all mayoral candidates to help the future of NHS workers with a commitment to:

  • Work with London’s NHS employers and Transport for London, to review the scope to reduce transport costs for key NHS staff 
  • Provide key worker housing and prioritise new housing developments for NHS workers

Danny Mortimer, Chief Executive of NHS Employers, said:

“We know NHS staff are moving further away from where they work. Housing costs are outstripping what the NHS can afford to pay for its staff putting the staffing of London’s NHS hospitals and services at risk. We know increased travel costs is also an issue. We want a public commitment in manifestos to ensure that London can attract and retain the talented healthcare workers its communities needs’.”

Ben Morrin, Director of Workforce, University College London Hospitals NHS Trust, part of London NHS Partnership, said: 

“London’s NHS relies upon great staff. Yet retaining them is the greatest workforce challenge London’s NHS faces. The next Mayor can make a vital contribution by committing to review how we can reduce transport costs for nurses, therapists and scientists who will otherwise struggle to remain in London.”

Sue Tarr, Operational Manager, Royal College of Nursing London said: 

“Nursing staff in London are being forced to leave the capital they love to find accommodation and travel they can afford. This has a direct impact on patient care with nursing shortages, with most Trusts having difficulty in filling vacant nursing posts. This cannot be ignored any longer, and RCN London is working alongside NHS employers in London to explore solutions. We are eagerly awaiting the proposals from London candidates to explain how they are going to assist in addressing this issue.”

London life for NHS workers

London Life for NHS workers: Quotes from nursing students and registered nurses in London February 2016

“I am not from a wealthy family. Even with a full bursary as a nursing student I have had to rely on help from my family and taking on extra work, often while on placement. I am confident that this is negatively affecting the NHS’s capability to recruit nurses in the future.”
(James, nursing student, London)

“Currently my bursary doesn’t even pay for my rent, so I have to work in the hospital as a healthcare assistant whilst also trying to keep my studies up. One of my fellow students has just completed a 96 hour week! When I graduate I want to be able to save for a deposit for a house and have a family. In London you have to look for options outside nursing. 
“What I can say from my experience as a senior nurse is that the cost of housing for nurses and student nurses is a significant problem.

“Excessive commutes to work (over an hour) are becoming more and more the norm because of lack of affordable housing in London. This is known to be a significant factor in sickness/absence and fatigue at work. An 11 hour continuous break between day shifts, required by working time regulations is not real if three hours is spent commuting back and forth to work.”
(Shaun Wright, Senior Nurse, East London)

“Today I commuted a total of 5 hours to my hospital placement for a 12 hour shift. I’ve hardly seen my daughter over the past 8 weeks because of this placement, she sleeps at my Mum’s because of my long hours. I’m a second year student now. I don’t want patients to miss out on quality nursing care because we cannot afford to be there.”
(Kate, 2nd year nursing student, London)

“Accommodation costs mean we have long travelling times before we even start work. Hospitals need to be doing some very quick thinking if they want to keep the nurses they have and attract new ones – subsidised accommodation nearer to the workplace would be a major help.”
 “Nursing students on placement in London are already planning careers outside the capital, and even abroad where living standards can be so much better.”
(Pat Yiggon, registered nurse, SW London)

“Working in SW London is really tough financially for nurses working in my Trust.  Landlords locally are charging £700+ a month for just a room in a shared house. The reality for most nurses in London is that you will never own a house or flat. The minimum fare for a return trip on a bus is £4.80 and staff can be expected to pay up to £12 a day to park on hospital grounds, if they can afford a car. Turnover of nursing staff locally is about 14% with many overseas nurses returning home or moving out of London when their subsidised hospital accommodation comes to an end. Some of our nurses are commuting daily from Hampshire and Sussex because they know they couldn’t afford to live in London.
Mike Smith (Senior Nurse, SW London)

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