The NHS is facing unprecedented demand as a service. As certain areas of the country have seen house prices rise significantly over recent years, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), Greater London Authority and One Public Estate are responding to the lack of affordable housing affecting the supply and retention of NHS staff.
The Royal College of Nursing found that 40 per cent of London nurses were considering leaving the city in the next five years due to the pressure of housing costs. Of these, 75 per cent would be more likely to stay in London if their housing needs were met.
Sir Robert Naylor’s report recommended that land vacated by the NHS for affordable housing should be prioritised for the development of homes for NHS staff, where there is a need, and that action should be taken to accelerate the delivery of a large number of small-scale and low-risk developments to deliver housing.
To address this challenge, the DHSC, One Public Estate and the Greater London Authority have jointly developed a London pilot focusing on early win exemplar sites that can be brought forward to deliver new affordable homes for NHS staff. OPE has already developed a network of partnerships between London boroughs and health landowners, making it a prime channel by which to support this pilot, alongside the other partners.
By establishing a programme leadership structure, developing a delivery toolkit (a step-by-step guide to support providers when they are considering delivery of affordable homes for their staff), growing the supply market and bringing forward exemplar projects to test delivery approaches, the pilot will go beyond simply giving NHS staff a right of first refusal with respect to affordable homes that would have been built anyway, by actively stimulating the flow of projects being brought forward and shaping the offer to meet the needs of NHS staff.
As part of the overall London health and care devolution programme, the London Estates Board and London Estates Delivery Unit lead on estates and property matters and provide the governance and a delivery framework for the homes for NHS staff pilot. Utilising these structures will mean that the pilot schemes will be embedded alongside wider activity to coordinate the release of surplus NHS land in London and generate capital for reinvestment. Pilot projects will receive the same support locally from the OPE London regional team to support delivery and develop local networks. To lead the delivery of the pilot, a project director has been appointed in the London Estates Delivery Unit.
The OPE programme is supporting a number of schemes that involve the release of NHS land for residential development. A review of the project pipeline in London identified the following exemplar projects:
- Croydon University Hospital
- Finchley key worker accommodation
- Kingston key worker accommodation
- Sydenham Green Health Centre, Lewisham
- Erith Road, Bexley
Each pilot project has received £70,000 of OPE funding through the ‘homes for NHS staff’ pilot to accelerate the delivery of affordable housing as part of the overall project scope. The number of homes for NHS staff that will be delivered through the pilot will be determined on a site-by-site basis once master-planning and feasibility studies are completed.