Plans to give health workers first refusal on affordable housing built on surplus NHS land have been welcomed by sector representatives.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt announced the measure at the Conservative party conference today, saying it could benefit up to 3,000 families.

jeremy hunt

Source: Neil O’Connor

Jeremy Hunt said the policy could benefit up to 3,000 families

The Department of Health has previously set an ambition for 26,000 new homes to be built on sold NHS land.

Most new residential developments are required to include provision for housing classed as “affordable”, though the proportion can vary.

Mr Hunt said: “NHS staff can also struggle to find homes near work they can actually afford. So from now on when NHS land is sold, first refusal on any affordable housing built will be given to NHS employees benefiting up to 3,000 families.”

There are particular concerns around housing for NHS workers in London and some trusts, including Royal Free London Foundation Trust and University College London Hospitals FT, have recently sold land to their charity arms with the intention of it being used for affordable homes.

Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers and deputy chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said:

“The NHS Confederation, together with NHS Employers, has been calling for an ambitious programme to use NHS land to create additional affordable homes for our staff. It was one of the key demands from the NHS Confederation at the general election.

“This announcement will undoubtedly support recruitment and retention, an issue at the forefront of our members’ priorities. Housing is a critical issue for staff and their families.”

Mr Hunt also announced plans to expand the number of nurse training places, and a pilot scheme in which 12 trusts will introduce a new software app to support flexible working.

The HSJ Strategic Estates Forum is taking place on 20 March at BMA House in London. This is a high-level strategic forum that brings together estates directors, STP estates leads and trust board leaders responsible for the estates function who are developing strategic plans for their organisations and local health economies. The focus of the forum is on issues such as the delivery vehicle for the Naylor Report, the creation of Project Phoenix, advice on establishing SEPs (Strategic Estates Partnerships) and assessing progress of STP estates plans. Sir Robert Naylor, National Adviser, NHS Property and Estates; David Williams, Director General of Finance, Department of Health and Simon Corben, Head of Profession, NHS Improvement are all confirmed as keynote speakers for the event. Register your interest for this free-to-attend event on our website:


NHS workers to get first refusal on affordable homes