Planning permission is being sought by the Department of Health and Social Care to build an accommodation block for staff on the Noble’s Hospital estate.
A single building, made up of six town houses containing 48 en-suite rooms with communal living space, is proposed.
Rental accommodation is offered to a wide range of health and social care workers for a variety of reasons.
It is important to be able to offer accommodation as a temporary measure to new staff going through the process of relocating themselves and their family to the Island. It means that new-recruits are able to take up their posts as quickly as possible and have a base on the Island when looking for a house to purchase etc.
Accommodation is also required for junior doctors training on the Island; each year the Department offers places to medical graduates undertaking their foundation training and their core medical training. Other uses include accommodation for UK-based agency and locum staff, for interview candidates and for student nurses.
Modern and fit-for purpose staff accommodation is an increasingly important factor in attracting care professionals to locate to the Island.
Minister for Health and Social Care, Howard Quayle MHK, said:
'The market to recruit key health and social care professionals is extremely competitive, especially for nurses and for doctors in particular specialisms. Like healthcare organisations in the UK, we struggle to recruit because of the global shortage of health staff. In order to compete and attract talented individuals we have to ensure that our offering is appealing and the best it can be.
'Our experience is that both the provision and the quality of accommodation is a key factor for potential employees when determining whether to accept a job offer – especially when locating to an Island.'
Much of the Department’s accommodation is still provided through the Nurses Home on Westmoreland Road, which opened in 1951. The building falls short of modern standards, having reached the end of its operational life. Continued long-term use would require a substantial investment which would not represent value for money.
The cost of the proposed new accommodation block is estimated at £2.4 million however the new units would allow the Nurses Home and two other properties in Douglas, which have a combined value of £1.8 million, to be offered for sale.
Minister Quayle added: 'This new purpose-built accommodation, if approved, will significantly modernise our housing stock and will enable the Department to realise its long-held ambition of having all of its lodgings on the Noble’s Hospital estate.
'The move has been planned for many years but other clinical projects have, quite rightly, taken priority. It is imperative that we up our game to attract vital workers. This important project will enable us to provide good quality accommodation meaning we can better compete with UK Trusts in trying to recruit the best professionals.'
If the planning application is approved the Department expects to seek Tynwald’s approval for funding at its June sitting and, subject to that, work would commence immediately with completion estimated for June 2017.