The kitchen has faults EE090409_08_04
Echo reporter Nadia Stone outside a nurses' accommodation block EE090409_08_06
The sparse bathroom EE090409_08_07
Gloomy bedroom living EE090409_08_08
NURSES are paying hundreds of pounds a month to stay in what they claim is dirty and dilapidated hospital accommodation.
There are no showers and only poor cooking facilities available in accommodation blocks at Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital.
And the nurses say their own health does not seem to be a priority.
They also argue that while other hospitals allow new nurses to stay in on-site accommodation free for six months, the RD&E charges £280 a month, rising to £360.
They claim the accommodation exacerbates their low morale after working long hours.
One nurse, who asked not to be named, said: "When I arrived I just thought ‘is this all they can offer me?’
"Everybody says they don’t want to have to pay much for this rubbish, just to live in a dump.
"It’s especially hard when we’ve had a bad day at work. We come back to this feeling depressed and it makes us feel worse."
Each block holds eight flats, which have four bedrooms in them, a bathroom, a toilet and a kitchen. With around eight blocks, there are more than 250 staff living in the units.
The nurse added: "In the kitchen we have two hobs but one side of the oven doesn’t work so we’ve only got one working hob.
"When I first came in the radiator wasn’t working. I asked to get it fixed and it didn’t happen. It was winter and it was so cold but they just wouldn’t fix it.
"A lot of the kitchen units need replacing — it’s all falling apart.
"The main issue is the washing. There’s no shower only a bath between four and we all tend to need it at the same time. If you’re working on an infected ward you come home and can’t even have a proper shower, you are washing in your own dirty water. It’s not hygienic, how do you ensure you’re properly clean when you go in the next day?
"It indirectly affects the patients. If we’re not happy and healthy then we’re more likely to get unwell and be off work."
She said she would not mind paying money for decent accommodation, but did not understand the high rent for such poor facilities.
"This is a wealthy trust, it’s got foundation status. I don’t understand why it can’t offer decent accommodation," she said.
"I could understand them charging if it was a nice place to be, but they never do anything to improve it so what’s the justification for charging us?"
Another nurse living in hospital accommodation, who also asked not to be named, said it was "more like a prison" than somewhere to live.
She said the staff worked such long hours that it was difficult to find alternative accommodation in the city, and coming back into a depressing place made it even harder to gather the motivation to look elsewhere. She said: "I’ve spoken to a lot of girls and they say how often they cry. I’m the same. Sometimes all of a sudden I just burst into tears.
"I don’t know if it’s the place or the job."
Another nurse, who used to live in a different hospital accommodation block, but recently moved out, said all the blocks were the same.
"I lived there for three years, and for those three years we were frequently without hot water and heating. It was freezing as the windows aren’t double-glazed and it’s constantly damp in the flats.
"There’s no landline and no internet, things didn’t work properly, and if you asked for things to be fixed, they never were."
A spokeswoman for the trust said she was concerned to hear of the complaints.
She said: "We seek to provide clean, comfortable and good quality accommodation to the staff who choose to live on site.
"The accommodation is cleaned weekly; we redecorate the rooms and communal areas on an annual rolling programme and, when notified, rapidly replace broken or faulty equipment."