Leaders call on government to create £10bn fund to revive the tradition of the health service providing homes for its staff.
The NHS should release its large reserves of spare land to create up to 40,000 new homes for doctors, nurses and other key staff who are being affected by a serious housing shortage, health service leaders say.
Modern versions of nurses’ homes, once a common feature of NHS hospitals, would be built under the proposals by the NHS Confederation, which represents 560 health service organisations.
Niall Dickson, the confederation’s chief executive, has called on the government to create a new £10bn NHS Homes Fund to revive the tradition of the health service providing homes for its staff, to tackle the recruitment problems blighting some areas of the NHS.
“There was a time when there were nurses’ homes all over the country but they all fell into disuse and were sold off from the 1960s onwards,” Dickson told the Observer. “We believe there is a case for new-style homes for NHS staff, particularly where the cost of housing is very high, which leads to staff not wanting to work in these places because they can’t find proper accommodation or have to travel long distances.”
A large amount of NHS land is unused, according to a review of NHS property published in March by Sir Robert Naylor, the former chief executive of University College London Hospitals. His report suggested that unlocking the land for private development would create space for up to 40,000 homes. Instead, Dickson suggests the land could be used for building affordable homes for NHS staff. “Indeed, there may well be scope for building affordable housing for the local community more generally,” he added.