Key medical staff can’t afford to live in London – and Boris needs to do something about it

I seconded a motion at this morning’s full meeting of the London Assembly calling on the Mayor to establish a key worker strategy and set out plans to better support nurses, paramedics and other key workers with the cost of living, so that they are able to enjoy a decent quality of life in London, and help safeguard the quality of key services.

I met with members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) who came to City Hall to express their support for the motion.

Nicky Gavron meets with members of the Royal College of Nursing who came to City Hall to support the motion, which Nicky seconded, calling for the Mayor to develop a strategy for key workers.

With members of the Royal College of Nursing who came to City Hall to support our motion calling for the Mayor to develop a strategy for key workers.

A report by the RCN last year showed that 14% of London NHS nursing posts are vacant, while the London Ambulance Service continues to lose workers at greater rates each year, including 238 last year.

It’s not just about recruitment – it’s about retention.

Many workers can’t stay in their roles because of the high cost of living, especially when it comes to housing.

We used to make sure that the people providing essential services could live in the areas they work. In the 2008 London Plan we had a key worker category for housing, but then Boris Johnson came along and abolished it in 2011. Instead of five years when we could have been building key worker housing, we’ve spent it hemorrhaging key workers.

These are the people who care for us, keep us safe, keep us alive. We need to make sure that they can live close to where they work. When they can’t afford London, we’re putting their livelihoods – and their lives – at risk.

This is why we need bring back a category for key worker housing.

I am proud that the motion was passed by the Assembly 15-4. The full text of the motion reads:

This Assembly welcomes the ongoing campaign by London health workers to secure fair NHS pay and regrets that Government has not respected the Independent Pay Review Body’s recommendation of a 1% pay rise in 2014 and 2015. The Assembly notes that the NHS is one of the largest employers in London.

The Assembly notes with concern the report by the Royal College of Nursing in December which showed that 14% of London NHS nursing posts are vacant, while the London Ambulance Service is recruiting over 100 paramedics from Australia and New Zealand to cover the gaps in its own workforce.

In a separate study 83% of RCN student members in London said the Government’s decision had made them worried they would not be able to afford to be a nurse in the city and the last CEO of the LAS stated that the ‘cost of living’ was a recruitment and retention problem for paramedics.

This Assembly therefore calls on the Mayor of London to:
Establish a key worker strategy and set out plans to better support nurses, paramedics and other key workers with the cost of living, so that they are able to enjoy a decent quality of life in London, and help safeguard the quality of key services.

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About nickygavron

Former Deputy Mayor for London, London Assembly Member, Chair of Planning Committee, and Labour Spokesperson for Planning
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