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London Assembly to vote on strategy to address nurse shortage

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The London Assembly is being asked to back a motion today calling for a “key worker strategy” for the capital to support attract and retain healthcare staff.

At their latest meeting, assembly members will vote on a motion put forward by Dr Onkar Sahota, who represents Ealing and Hillingdon and also chairs the assembly’s health committee.

The motion calls on Mayor Boris Johnson to set out plans to better support nurses, paramedics and other key staff with the rising cost of living.

“The mayor needs to establish a key worker housing strategy and set out plans to better support nurse”

Onkar Sahota

The Royal College of Nursing is the driving force behind the move. Its members met this morning at City Hall with Dr Sahota, ahead of the vote to call for all assembly members to support the motion.

In a statement, the RCN reiterated its concerns that NHS employers in the capital are finding it more difficult to recruit sufficient staff to keep patients safe.

In December the RCN published figures showing that 14% of London NHS nursing posts were now vacant, up from 11% the previous year and double the rate of the rest of the country.

Dr Sahota said a “major cause” of the vacancy rate was the high living costs in the capital.

“The mayor needs to establish a key worker housing strategy and set out plans to better support nurses, paramedics and other key workers with the cost of living, so that they can afford to live in London and continue to serve Londoners,” he said.

RCN London regional director Bernell Bussue said: “The government has imposed a pay freeze on NHS staff for most of the past five years, while the cost of living here in London has continued to spiral upwards.

“The result is that London employers are finding it harder to attract the number of nursing staff they think they need. Nursing vacancies in London are now twice the rate of those in the rest of the country,” he added.

“It is fantastic that the London Assembly is speaking up for the region’s health workers today,” he said. “We need urgent action to address London’s nursing shortage and make sure the nation’s capital remains an attractive and affordable destination for nurses to live and work.”

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