NHS staff unable to find rental homes in Cornwall

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Graham Milne
Image caption,
Graham Milne from Falmouth has been struggling to find a new home for him and his 15-year-old son

NHS workers have called the stress of finding a rental property in Cornwall "overwhelming".

Graham Milne, who works in the radiography department at the Royal Cornwall Hospital, Truro, is looking for somewhere to live after his current landlord decided to sell the property.

He said he recently viewed a property in Falmouth and there were 75 people ahead of him wanting the same home.

Cornwall Council has said it is working to address housing pressures.

Royal Cornwall Hospital NHS Trust (RCHT) said finding affordable housing to rent or buy is one of the biggest challenges it faced when recruiting staff from outside Cornwall.

Mr Milne has lived in Falmouth for 30 years and in his current rental property for eight years. He has has been given until 31 December to find somewhere new for him and his son.

In a social media post he appealed for places to rent, saying he feared for his health and his son's future.

He said: "The stress that this has given me has been overwhelming. I've had tightness in my chest, my hands are shaking, I can't sleep at night.

"I am determined to continue to work at Treliske [Truro] and particularly my team are under so much pressure at the moment which I don't want to add to. However, I don't know how long I can keep this up. It's very difficult to search for a house whilst working shifts full time.

"The response from my Facebook appeal has opened my eyes to the number of people in Cornwall who are in my position or worse," he said.

RCHT said one of the biggest challenges when recruiting people from outside of Cornwall, or from overseas, is for them to find affordable homes to rent or buy.

Image caption,
Ukeme Akpan has worked as a radiographer in Cornwall for two years

Ukeme Akpan is a diagnostic radiographer at Treliske and moved from Nigeria to take up her job.

When she first arrived in Cornwall she was put in temporary staff accommodation, but when that expired she said she found it "horrible" to find somewhere to live.

"I might need to go or go to another place, because you can't have peace of mind, you can't be focussed on your work, so it's really disturbing and stressful," she said.

Ms Akpan is currently staying with a friend.

"Sometimes I want to go home, go back to my country because it's a lot easier there," she added.

RCHT said: "We are working with our NHS partners and Cornwall Council to find ways to help our key workers and have actively supported local planning applications where developers are aiming to provide key worker or affordable housing."

The trust says its working to find ways to help key workers and would love to hear from landlords or letting agents with accommodation available.

Cornwall Council said it was working to address housing pressures in a variety of ways, including the purchase and refurbishment of disused properties.

"We need affordable housing in Cornwall everybody knows it, this not a new issue," Cherilyn Mackrory MP for Truro and Falmouth said.

"We all know that we need more affordable housing in Cornwall but what we need is more keyworker housing in Cornwall.

"It doesn't matter what level you work at in the hospital, we can't borrow staff from other hospital trusts like other parts of the country, if people are coming to work in Cornwall they are coming to live and work in Cornwall and we want to make sure we've got as much keyworker housing as we need to help facilitate those families' moves."

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