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RCN London Housing Survey 2016

A call for the new Mayor to help address London's health recruitment crisis

40% of London nurses say that the cost of housing means they expect to leave the capital in the next five years. 

The worrying figure is revealed by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) in the results of a survey of more than a thousand RCN members working right across the city. 

The RCN is now calling on the next Mayor of London to deliver an action plan which supports health staff to live in the capital in the numbers needed to deliver safe patient care.

What do London's nurses think?

Over a thousand RCN members working in Greater London took part in the survey. Nursing staff of all levels gave their views about how the cost, standard and availability of housing affects them and the service they deliver to London's patients.

Read the full results
Without more support London nurses say it is becoming ever more difficult for them to live and work in London: 
  • 79% of RCN members working in London say they worry about the cost of their accommodation 
  • 66% say the cost of housing has caused them to consider leaving London for work 
  • 40% say they will probably or definitely leave London in next five years
Following warnings of a recruitment crisis in London nursing, there are further signs of the damaging impact of squeezed pay for health workers: 
  • 74% say recent Government decisions on nurses’ pay have made it more difficult for them to live in London
  • 76% say housing costs take up bigger share of their income than five years ago
  • The average RCN London member now spends 43% of their take home pay on housing, and a further 7% on transport
However 75% said they would be more likely to stay nursing in London if their housing needs were better met.

The RCN is calling for the new Mayor of London to help address these issues by taking action to: 
  • Reintroduce and strengthen London’s key worker housing regulations 
  • Require new homes built on NHS land to be offered first to low paid NHS staff 
  • And offer discounted travel for London health staff to help them with the costs of getting to and from work
The report builds on previous partnership working to try and address London recruitment challenges, including through the NHS England's Capital Nurse Programme and the London NHS Partnership's recent report "London Life for NHS Workers".  

The RCN's call for action from the Mayor has been backed by major London hospitals including University College London Hospitals NHS FT and Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust, as well as NHS Employers Chief Executive Danny Mortimer.

Commenting on the report, RCN London Regional Director Bernell Bussue said: “This survey of London nurses shows that the spiralling cost of housing is directly contributing to the recruitment crisis faced by our region’s health service. 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.” 

For more information please contact Ewan Russell, RCN London Communications Manager, at ewan.russell@rcn.org.uk