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The next steps for #BursaryOrBust: defending affordable housing

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The #BursaryOrBust campaign’s #SleepOut/Vigil for the NHS to place in November last year, and I wanted to explain why we, as healthcare professionals, need to be defending affordable housing.

I am quite biased about #BursaryOrBust, being one of the King’s students who helped to organise the protest. Originally I was surprised by how large the protest became but I now see this as inevitable given the current anger and resentment that exists within the profession.

“Our collective action together speaks much louder than any moaning”

Obviously I think that there are an endless number of reasons for nurses, midwives and AHPs to be angry but I think that our collective action together speaks much louder than any moaning I have heard in the staff room.

Housing is a major issue not just for healthcare workers but for anyone who isn’t lucky enough to be a homeowner.

Politicians, irrespective of their ideology, need to come together to address the housing shortage, bring down rents and build more affordable housing to benefit healthcare staff and students.

Without cheaper, safe and accessible housing we’ll have no nurses, teachers or firemen. It’s that simple. 24,000 nursing vacancies, the stats don’t lie.

Most of the band 5 nurses in my trust commute for an hour each way to reach central London. This used to be because the home counties could theoretically address the ridiculously high rents and house prices in London.

However, so many people have now fled the capital that it is making a lot of my colleagues consider leaving, as evidenced by the Capital Nurse project.

“It is clear to see that nurses’ pay will not afford them the luxury of buying a house”

We all know that this isn’t just a London issue, housing is expensive everywhere. But if London’s trusts collapse because of their financial deficits which are in part due to issues with staff retention, it will put pressure on the rest of the country that I do not believe it can withstand.

Pay is also inevitably a factor. With the average house price currently at £205,000 and increasing on average 4.5% over a year it is clear to see that nurses’ pay will not afford them the luxury of buying a house now, let alone in the future with an accumulated 10 year pay cut predicted by 2020.

Measures must be introduced to bring costs down. Not just to safeguard our health service but to stimulate the economy by having a middle/working class that can benefit from it and contribute to it through investment in the housing market. We can’t rely on the over 40s to finance our economy through spending. We have to enable the younger generations, such as myself, to contribute too.

“Housing affects us all”

The past three years have seen both my mother and my grandmother die. Obviously, these events we’re awful things to go through but the reason I mention them is to highlight that my working-class parents we’re only able to consider paying off their mortgage when my grandmother died and left them money. How sad is it, that any future house purchase for myself (and I assume many others), will only be a realistic aspiration if my father also passes away?

It is astounding that we can live in a country where the people who care for our most vulnerable, on a full time wage, cannot afford to live themselves.

This isn’t just about healthcare workers, housing affects us all. Share this blog if you can. Write to your MPs and demand a resolution with your vote. We are powerful.


Here are some of the videos I recorded whilst at the Sleep Out:

Source: Anthony Johnson

Source: Anthony Johnson

Source: Anthony Johnson

Powerful statement from Medicine for the NHS: The Real Cost of Living

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