The Royal College of Nursing has welcomed reports that land at a redeveloped hospital site in North London is to be used to create new housing for NHS staff, noting the “huge pressure” nurses are under in trying to secure accommodation close to work.
The Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust has sold some of its land at Chase Farm Hospital in Enfield to the organisation’s charitable arm, the Royal Free Charity, for £50m, it has been reported.
“Nurses have been forced to live further and further away from where they work”
Charity chief executive Chris Burghes told Health Service Journal that “one of the key things” the charity wanted to achieve through the sale was “to procure land for key worker housing and to retain ownership of that”.
The trust is carrying out a major redevelopment of the site, involving the demolition of most of the existing buildings and construction of a modern hospital, due to open in 2018, which is adjacent to the land sold to the charity.
Up to 500 family homes and apartments, including accommodation for key workers, will be created at the site, according to the trust.
Commenting on the plans, RCN London regional director Bernell Bussue said: “We welcome the commitment made by the Royal Free Charity to use the land bought from Chase Farm Hospital to provide housing for key workers.
“For too long, thanks to pay restraint and increasing housing costs, nurses have been forced to live further and further away from where they work,” he said.
He noted that an RCN report published last year had revealed the “huge pressure” nursing staff were under in finding suitable accommodation close to their place of work.
The report – titled Better Homes for Nurses: Ideas to support London’s nursing community to live and work in the capital – called for the strengthening of London’s key worker housing regulations, which require that new homes built on NHS land should be first offered to low-paid NHS staff.
“This commitment from the Royal Free Charity, if delivered, will help redress the balance in favour of key workers so that they are not forced to live well outside of the areas where they work,” added Mr Bussue.
The accident and emergency, and maternity departments at Chase Farm Hospital closed in mid-November and on 9 December 2013, respectively, despite opposition from local people.
Most of the hospital’s existing buildings, except for the Highlands Wing and part of the Clock Tower building, are set to be demolished.
Regulator praises ‘outstanding’ nursing practice
Source: Christine Matthews