Nurses forced to quit because they cannot afford to buy their own home

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Nurses are being forced to quit the profession to take better-paid jobs because they cannot get on the property ladder, nursing leaders have warned.

Nurses are being forced to quit the profession to take better-paid jobs because they cannot get on the property ladder, nursing leaders have warned.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said the Government's Key Worker Living scheme was helping more nurses buy a home, but many were still excluded from applying.

Frustration at not being able to afford a home means nurses must find a better-paid job or extra work.

The Government said money for its scheme was almost fully committed in some areas after just two months. The scheme helps workers in the public sector, such as nurses and teachers, to buy their own homes, but excludes those outside the south-east of England, and nurses employed outside the NHS in the private and charity sectors.

It also excludes overseas nurses in the UK on work permits - who make up a considerable proportion of NHS staff.

The RCN said that in the first year of the scheme 653 nurses in the South-east had been helped on to the property ladder. So far this year, 25,000 people have applied to the scheme, of which 5,197 have completed or are at an advanced stage.

Claire Cannings, the RCN's welfare officer, said: "For the 653 nurses helped already, the scheme has been fantastic. But the key worker scheme is over-stretched and the money is already running out. For the many nurses who aren't eligible for this scheme, it can seem divisive and extremely unfair."

Stuart Twells, a senior staff nurse at St Bartholo-mew's hospital in central London, is eligible for a key worker loan but says it is not enough to buy a decent home in the capital.

"I have been thinking about leaving nursing for something better-paid - maybe something in the travel industry.

"One of the reasons is because I'm 33 years old and can't afford my own home. I have been evicted from nurses' accommodation twice because they were closed down and I'm now paying £505 a month for a match box."

Ms Cannings added: "It's very disturbing to find nurses considering leaving the profession because they can't afford their own homes. Affordable housing is a big issue in recruiting and retaining nurses."

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: "The money available for equity loans through the key worker housing programme was finite and we expect the last allocations to be made by September."

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