More than half of London’s nurses want to leave the city – largely due to the cost of living, a survey published today by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has revealed.
The RCN has now called for free travel for nurses in London as part of a series of ‘bold’ recommendations to offset the capital’s high cost of living, which it says is contributing to London’s nurse staffing crisis.
The suggestion comes after its survey of 1,400 London nurses found 57% would leave or like to leave the capital in five years’ time with cost of accommodation (84%) and transport (60%) the most common reasons listed.
One in ten said the cost of accommodation is taking up more of their income than five years ago, and one in four said they were struggling and increasingly worried about their finances, the survey found.
Nursing vacancies are consistently higher in London than any other part of the country, with one in six (10,550) nursing posts now unfilled.
The RCN made a series of recommendations to retain and recruit staff in London in its survey report, ‘Living in the Red: The cost of the living crisis for London’s nursing workforce’.
Its suggestions included free travel for nursing staff in London, the most popular policy solution among survey respondents (with 73% saying they approved).
Private rent controls should also be introduced to support nursing staff living in the capital, the RCN said.
Other recommendations included halting the sale of surplus NHS land and using it to develop thousands of keyworker, social and affordable homes.
‘Anyone that cares about London’s health services and patients should be seriously concerned that over half of London’s nurses either want – or have already decided – to leave the city because the cost of living is simply too high,’ said RCN London operational manager Mark Farmer.
‘With London’s NHS still having the highest number of nurse vacancies in England, the connection between the staffing crisis and the city’s cost of living cannot be ignored any longer. If it is, any gains made by employers in retaining staff will be wasted if the city they live in continues to price them out.’
British Medical Association regional council chair Dr Gary Marlowe said the financial concerns of nurses in London is a ‘shameful state of affairs’.
‘It is time for the Government to finally value nurses, doctors and other health and care staff by affording them working conditions and pay that reflect their worth to our health service and the patients they care for,’ he added.