At the beginning of November 2021, following a startling article by BBC Spotlight, we launched a campaign to find affordable, long-term rental accommodation for NHS staff across Cornwall.
Initially, the response was poor, almost non-existent, but following a second BBC TV interview with our Property Manager, Phil Norgan, some socially conscious landlords came forward with properties that they wanted us to offer, exclusively, to NHS staff.
These will become available from early January 2022.
However, the ratio of enquiries from NHS staff to available properties is getting bigger by the day. In Mid November it was 7:1, that’s seven enquiries for every property we had coming available for NHS staff. Now it is 17:1. It is becoming clear that the gap will continue to grow unless more landlords are prepared to accept that having a long-term tenant, with a guaranteed income is a better bet than getting a tenant who might pay a slightly higher monthly rent but only be in the property for 6 months, therefore incurring the landlord a void period, with no income, and new set-up fees when a new tenant is found.
It should also be noted that this is not just a Cornwall problem.
We have had calls from a junior doctor in Somerset, a nurse at Torbay Hospital and, amazingly, a call from an estate agent in Essex saying they have the same problem and asking how they go about helping NHS staff find affordable accommodation.
It should also be noted that, at the time of writing this blog, not one MP or councillor has made contact with Phil Norgan, despite his numerous attempts. Oliver Monk, the councillor for Housing at Cornwall Council, Cherilyn Mackrory and Steve Double, the local MP’s and any other person of significant interest have all ducked the opportunity to “sit down” with Phil and discuss how we can, collectively, start to solve this problem.
There are solutions and many of them are a lot less expensive than building in green fields.
Empty, redundant office buildings, empty warehouses, holiday parks with static homes and, the unthinkable, empty houses. These could all be utilised to provide temporary and long-term accommodation for NHS staff, for those already living in Cornwall and those with jobs to come to, in the NHS, in Cornwall.
We have a lady who has a job waiting at Cornwall Air Ambulance but because she lives 4 hours away, currently, she can’t find suitable accommodation and, therefore, can’t start her new job. We know of nurses, technicians and other hospital staff who want to start their new jobs in Cornwall but haven’t been able to find a property. Then there is Lesley Weeks, the theatre nurse at Treliske. Lesley appeared, with Phil, on BBC Spotlight a couple of weeks ago. Her eviction was scheduled for 30 November and she had struggled to find a 3 bedroom home in Camborne or nearby. After the interview, Lesley had some offers come her way. Unfortunately, for one reason or another, they were not suitable. Thankfully, her current landlord has given her more time to find something and we are actively appealing to landlords in Camborne and Redruth for their help.
Every day, we get calls, emails and notes asking for our help and we want to help but without an influx of rental properties that are slightly subsidised for the NHS, we can’t.
Cornwall is a lovely place to live. It’s an aspirational place to live. But it also has an underfunded, over-stretched NHS and we want you to ask yourself this one question;
“If you were admitted to hospital, would you feel more comforted knowing that the person looking after you had somewhere secure and warm to sleep that night?”