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CEO issues plea for staff housing

Published on: 20 Jun 2023

The chief executive of a large hospital trust in the South West has made a rare intervention to call for more housing for hospital staff.

Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust chief executive Steve Williamson has asked landlords and estate agents to help staff find accommodation amid a shortage of available housing, according to the BBC.

Mr Williamson said it was a “real challenge” for staff to find suitable accommodation with “more people coming into the region again”.

He said: “Anything that the community can do to help us provide accommodation for our staff would be immensely beneficial. Whether that’s rental accommodation to be available for us or whether that might be shared accommodation to be available, we’ve got staff that would welcome both of those.”

The trust lists a failure to attract and retain a sustainable workforce as one of its top “extreme corporate risks” on its board assurance framework, with “housing challenges” acknowledged as one of the biggest obstacles to attracting talent from outside the country.

The problem is thought to be down to an increasing number of people moving to the region, as well as the high number of second homes being used as holiday rentals. Cornwall is the region with the largest number of second homes in the country.

At the peak of tourism season in August 2022, research found there were more than 20,000 holiday rentals listed in Cornwall on sites such as Airbnb, while Rightmove listed just 240 long-term rentals.

According to the BBC, at least one letting agent has been working with the trust to help staff find accommodation since November 2021, with more than 700 members of staff seeking accommodation at the start of the scheme.