§ Brian Cotter
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what action is being taken by his Department with regard to the provision of affordable housing for NHS staff. 
§ Mr. Hutton
We fully recognise the importance to recruitment and retention of good quality, affordable accommodation being available for nurses and other health workers, and this is why we set out a target of providing 2,000 additional units by July 2003 in the NHS Plan.
We have established the national health service housing initiative and, since the launch of the NHS Plan, 1,273 additional units of accommodation have been sourced through negotiation with registered social landlords and other providers. In addition, contracts have been agreed on a further 243 units of accommodation and 725 units are agreed subject to contract. The housing initiative has 1205W been extended to include the south-east and other hotspots, including a new staff hotel at the John Radcliffe in Oxford. We have also established an accommodation bureau and website so that available accommodation is used more efficiently.
We also recognise the importance of home ownership in the retention of staff and by 2004, around 5.000 NHS staff should have benefited from the £250 million allocated under the starter home initiative. Assistance is in the form of equity loans, interest free loans and shared ownership.