Health and Care Staff: Life in the cost-of-living crisis (Summary report)

The recruitment and retention of staff into many health and social care professions continues to be a significant challenge for the NHS. This is especially so in the Thames Valley, which experiences particular challenges in relation to staff recruitment in many sectors including health and social care1. The local health and care systems in Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West (BOB) and Frimley are concerned that high housing, energy and transport costs, exacerbated by the location of workplaces in respect to affordable housing, have been contributing to difficulties in staff recruitment and retention. Whilst current cost-of-living issues are acute, they are overlaying and compounding long-term problems in the housing market which mean that there is a lack of appropriate housing in the region which is affordable. 

This executive summary reports on research which was undertaken in 2023 to provide a robust evidence base on the relationship between living costs and the recruitment and retention of health and care staff within the BOB and Frimley Integrated Care System (ICS)2. The research was undertaken jointly by researchers drawn from the School of Human and Health Sciences, University of Huddersfield and the Centre for Regional and Economic Social Research (CRESR), Sheffield Hallam University. The purpose of the research was to enable system leads within the ICS to understand the wider context that impacted on the lives of staff, understand their day-to-day experiences and identify measures which can help increase retention and overall attractiveness of employment within health and care. 

The study was undertaken in three phases involving an economic analysis, interviews with staff and engagement with wider stakeholders. This document summarises the key findings from each of these phases and draws together overarching conclusions.