Royal Cornwall Hospital warns housing crisis is affecting recruitment

A 3D image of student and nurses accommodation planned for Tresawls Road, Truro. Credit: CAD Architects

Hospital staff in Cornwall are finding it increasingly difficult to get somewhere to live as the housing crisis continues.

That is according to the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust, which has just seen plans for accommodation in Truro deferred due to parking concerns.

Councillors were concerned 15 spaces for 89 beds across the three-block development in Tresawls Road would not be enough.

Roberta Fuller, head of hospital reconfiguration at RCHT, has written to Cornwall Council to explain how the shortage of accommodation and rising property prices is affecting staff.

Ms Fuller said while the hospital at Treliske is “relatively well-served for staff accommodation… this does not mean that there is sufficient accommodation to meet demand”.

She said Pendeen House, the current accommodation block owned by the hospital, is near the end of its life and the lack of affordable accommodation was “having a very real and negative impact on our ability to recruit and retain clinical staff”.

The Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust says the difficulty in obtaining accommodation is affecting its ability to recruit staff. Credit: ITV West Country

Ms Fuller added that, in conversations with senior managers in Devon and Cornwall, “the issue of the lack of affordable housing to support key workers was raised as a current and growing concern”.

Her letter stated: “In the post-Covid pandemic period, when our NHS staff are all extremely tired after over a year of going above and beyond to support the community in Cornwall through three waves of infection, the additional strain of seeking, securing, and retaining a place to live is certainly impacting on our local workforce.

“In addition, long distance “weekly commuters” from Devon and beyond are starting to struggle to find short term accommodation to continue to work at the trust without relocating fully.

Roberta Fuller pointed out that “many of our skilled and trained medical and nursing staff are in mid-life with children, pets, and extended families to consider. Finding affordable long-term family accommodation has become even more difficult since the Covid lockdown with the subsequent rise of house prices in Cornwall.”

Her letter came as the Department of Health and NHS England are reviewing key worker accommodation issues nationally.

Artist's impression of the planned accommodation block in Truro, which is stalled due to concerns about parking. Credit: CAD Architects

Ms Fuller then addressed the current plans to build accommodation in Truro and said: “There is a definite need for more affordable accommodation going forward to support the whole community. Your proposal to use the site at Chywhela, just a short walk from Royal Cornwall Hospital, will certainly assist in delivering some much-needed additional housing for key workers. This is particularly acute in Cornwall due to the desire of many people, since Covid, to relocate out of the big cities.

She added: “Our local NHS workers working in acute care need to live within a reasonable commute of the Royal Cornwall Hospital, as they need to attend the physical place of work to deliver clinical care. They are being priced out of the market by city workers now more able to work remotely.” Credit: Local Democracy Reporter Richard Whitehouse