Call for rent controls by Scottish nurses priced out of homes near hospitals

nurse_at_workA union of nurses is calling for action to help NHS staff in Scotland find accommodation in the areas they provide hospital care, and to reduce damage to public health caused by poor housing.

A motion being put to a major congress of the Royal College of Nursing in Glasgow next month will ask members to vote on whether to “lobby governments of the UK to introduce rent controls”.

Shortages of nurses in property hotspots including Aberdeen and Edinburgh have prompted the motion with the union warning that the profession is being priced out of communities near hospitals.

NHS staff having to leave for work two hours before they start a 12 hour shift because they have to live so far from work, are also among its concerns.

Community nurse Geoff Earl, Lothian branch officer, told The Herald: “There are huge areas now where it has become very difficult to rent accommodation including some areas of Glasgow, but particularly Edinburgh and Aberdeen. This is affecting recruitment of nurses in those areas.”

The motion to the College of Nursing also highlights the dangerous impact poor quality rented accommodation has on public health.

The motion states: “Housing is one of the major determinants of health. The quality of housing impacts on health, as does tenure, with private occupiers usually exhibiting better health than renters. Rent regulation could improve the wellbeing of vulnerable households by increasing the amount of money available to spend on other items such as food and clothing.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The wellbeing of staff is essential to the smooth running of the NHS, and we are working with stakeholders to develop measures to continue support the recruitment and retention of staff.

“The Scottish Government is working with Aberdeen City Council, NHS Grampian and other partners to develop new homes for key public sector workers, including NHS staff on the former site of Craiginches Prison.

“The Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016 will provide clarity and predictability in rent increases where rents can rise only once in 12 months and tenants will have 3 month notice of changes to enable them to budget accordingly. In addition, councils will have the ability to apply to Ministers for a cap on rent increases in their area for up to 5 years.”

The Royal College of Nursing is holding its 2016 congress at the SECC in Glasgow from Saturday June 18.

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