The first housing development exclusively for clinical staff will open in Salford to help plug an acute staff shortage in the NHS.
Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust has teamed up with housing association Salix Homes to provide a 26-apartment complex for doctors, nurses and other clinical staff who work at the organisation.
It comes after the Trust revealed it was struggling to fill 200 vacancies, with the lack of affordable accommodation one of the barriers to attracting people to the area.
Ian Moston, group chief finance officer for Salford Royal, said “Like most organisations in the NHS we have a significant number of vacancies. Our partnership with Salix Homes will provide a major benefit to us in helping to attract people to work and settle in Salford.
“For the majority of us, the ability to live close to where we work is an important part of balancing work and home life. Through this partnership with Salix Homes we hope to provide people choosing to come to Salford with good quality, affordable housing whilst they establish themselves in the City on a long term basis.
“We hope this venture with Salix Homes is the first of many areas where we believe we can collaborate to improve the health and wellbeing of people living and working in Salford, and the area and can become a template for other communities.”
Salix Homes has spent more than £2million converting the former sheltered housing complex Alexander Gardens in Broughton into modern one and two bedroom apartments.
The project was partially funded thanks to a £780,000 grant from Homes England Shared Ownership and Affordable Homes Programme.
Alexander Gardens on Gorton Street has stood empty since the Boxing Day 2015 floods after the former residents were re-housed when their homes were damaged by the worst flooding to hit Salford in decades.
Since that fateful night, extensive flood resilience measures have been implemented within the facility and the wider area to help protect against future floods.
Sue Sutton, executive director of operations at Salix Homes, said: “It’s no secret that the country is in the grips of a housing crisis, but it really brings it home when our own local hospital cannot recruit staff due to a severe shortage of suitable and affordable accommodation.
“In the year our wonderful NHS turns 70, we are very proud to be able to offer a solution to provide affordable accommodation for doctors, nurses and other health professionals and help ensure our NHS can continue the fantastic work it does for another 70 years and beyond.
“We believe this project to be among the first of its kind in the country and shows the importance of the health and housing industries working together to help overcome some of the most critical issues facing our sectors.”
Salix Homes, which owns more than 8,000 homes across Salford, has worked alongside its partner contractor A.Connolly Ltd to completely transform and remodel the facility to create 16 two-bedroom and 10 one-bedroom apartments.
Salford Royal intends to let the homes to new recruits for a period of six months in a bid to encourage more medical professionals to come to Salford to work, and reduce its reliance on agency staff.
The fully-furnished properties, kitted out by north-west based Fusion Furniture, will be let as part of a comprehensive employment package provided by Salford Royal and will be available for single people, couples and families.
Salford City Mayor Paul Dennett said: “This unique project is one we are extremely proud of in Salford. Salix Homes and the NHS have worked closely together to pull this together, in conjunction with our bid to Homes England to support the scheme.
“There is a national shortage of affordable homes –and a national crisis in housing – so anything that can support the fabulous staff who work tirelessly for the NHS and bring more of their workers to our city is welcomed.”
The project has also provided work and opportunities for local people.
Chris Connolly, commercial director at contractors A Connolly Ltd, added: “Supporting communities is important to us and we have employed local people through our partnership with Salix Homes, as well as recruiting two apprentices through the Build Salford project.
“A.Connolly Ltd is pleased to have played a part in this unique scheme which will enable more medical professionals to live and work in Salford.
“Major refurbishment work is in of our key specialisms and we were delighted to be able to use our expertise to support Salix Homes in bringing this building back into use.”
The refurbishment and remodelling work is expected to be completed this summer and it’s hoped the first residents will move in during October.