NHS staff will be given ‘first refusal’ on affordable housing developed on surplus NHS land, says Health Secretary

Jeremy Hunt announced the ‘Homes for Nurses’ scheme on surplus NHS land at the Conservative Party conference this week as part of wide-ranging nursing workforce reforms.

The Health Secretary pledged a 25% increase in training posts for nurses as well as new measures to improve working conditions for NHS workers.

These include: arrangements to support flexible working to help staff to balance work-life commitments, and a system of staff banks for flexible workers across the NHS, which the Department for Health (DoH) says will increase opportunities for NHS staff to work on NHS terms and reduce agency costs for employers.

The ‘Homes for Nurses’ scheme will give NHS workers a right to buy affordable homes generated through the sale of surplus NHS land.

Hunt said in his speech: “Like many people, NHS staff can also struggle to find homes near work they can actually afford.

So from now on when NHS land is sold, first refusal on any affordable housing built will be given to NHS employees benefitting up to 3,000 families.”

The DoH says the increase in training posts for nurses and improvements to working conditions are part of the government’s commitment to widen participation and social mobility throughout the health sector. They will also help to reduce the reliance on overseas recruitment by boosting the supply of home-grown nurses.

Jeremy Hunt said: The NHS will be looking after a million more over-75s in just a decade, so we need to jump-start nurse training.

This represents the biggest increase in nurse training places in the history of the NHS – and we will make sure that many of the additional places go to healthcare assistants training on hospital sites. This will allow us to expand our nurse workforce with some highly experienced people already working on the NHS frontline.

We will also improve retention rates amongst our current workforce, introducing new arrangements to support flexible working available to all NHS staff, and a new right of first refusal for affordable housing built on NHS property. Combined with the 25% increase in undergraduate medical school places announced last year it will transform the ability of the NHS to cope with the pressures ahead.”

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