Nurses told to leave their homes as private hospital sells off block of affordable rent bedsits
Staff say they will not be able to find anywhere similarly priced in the area
09 November, 2017 — By Dan Carrier
A LEADING private hospital has told nursing and care staff to quit their homes just a week before Christmas – as it seeks to sell off a building left to it by a grateful patient.
The London Clinic, based in Harley Street, owns a block in Primrose Hill which for more than four decades has provided employees with affordable housing. It allows nurses and other vital care staff the opportunity to live in bedsit-style flats near the hospital so they can be on-call.
But last month the hospital gave nearly 60 staff members notice to quit their homes in Vernon House, St Mark’s Square, before Christmas. The block was gifted to the hospital in the late 60s or early 70s.
One nurse, who did not wish to be named but who has lived in Vernon House for more than 10 years, said: “They just issued us with a section 21 order a couple of weeks ago that has given us two months’ notice to leave. “They are within their rights to do this, but it came completely out of the blue. They have said if we do not move they will get a court order. “We want them to rethink their decision or at least give us more time to move out.”
The nurse added: “We pay a moderate rent and it allows us to live near our work. We will not be able to find anything similar. It lets us get to work on time and also be on-call and come in at short notice. “We are like headless chickens running around trying to find a new place to live. There are people here who work all hours and they turn round and do this to us. They say that they would need to invest £5m in the building and, as they can’t, they are selling it off.”
Some staff have been offered a cash bonus to help them find a new home. The bonus is related to how long they have lived at Vernon House, but with property prices high, nurses say it is not enough to find anything similar on their wages.
A spokesman for the independent private hospital and charity said: “The decision to sell Vernon House has been a difficult decision. We understand that this is a disruptive time for our employees who live at Vernon House and we are working closely with them to find alternative accommodation, by providing a financial package to help them move home and an independent housing advisor to support them.”
He added: “Of the 1,200 people who are employed at the London Clinic, 57 live at Vernon House. As a charity, we have a responsibility to spend our money carefully and the proceeds of the sale will allow us to invest in our hospital for the benefit of our patients.”