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Call for NHS to sell land for staff accommodation

Land sale could mean 40,000 new homes

Adrian O'Dowd

Monday, 12 June 2017

An NHS leader has called on the government to greenlight the sale of NHS land with the intention of building homes for doctors, nurses and other NHS staff who are struggling to deal with the lack of housing in the UK.

In an interview, published at the weekend in The Observer newspaper, Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, argued that the idea could help staff and raise revenue for the health service.

Mr Dickson called on the government to create a new £10 billion NHS Homes Fund that would revive the tradition of the health service providing homes for its staff in order to tackle recruitment problems in some areas of the NHS.

This would mean creating updated versions of nurses’ homes that used to be common for NHS hospitals.

Mr Dickson told The Observer: “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.

“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.”

In March, a Department of Health commissioned review of NHS property, published by Sir Robert Naylor (former chief executive of University College London Hospitals), said a significant amount of NHS owned land was currently not being used and that there was potential for the NHS to sell land worth about £2.7 billion upon which 40,000 houses could be built.

Mr Dickson argued that by providing seed money from the NHS Homes Fund, which he estimated would need to be around £10 billion, land could be released more easily and the money gained could be kept by the relevant NHS trusts for other developments.

“This should not be about selling off the NHS,” said Mr Dickson. “The proceeds from land sales should be ploughed back into the health service. The NHS desperately needs more capital.

“There are certain kinds of staff where we have a real difficulty trying to recruit and there’s no doubt that if you were able to offer accommodation it would make a post a lot more attractive.”

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