Thousands of doctors and nurses are being offered accommodation for free by landlords amid growing pressure for councils to open up empty homes.
Online portals matching homeowners with workers in need are being swamped with requests as new data analysed by The Times shows that two-thirds of all the empty homes in England are near hospitals.
Some 140,000 empty homes are within local authorities which have at least one hospital.
Nearly one in 20 homes in the City of London are vacant: just down the road, Barts Hospital has one of the highest numbers of deaths from coronavirus.
In Newham, the London borough where the new NHS Nightingale hospital has been built within the Excel Centre, there are 1,275 empty homes — a 43% rise on last year.
Councils have the power to reclaim properties that have remained empty for a long time.
Samantha Batt-Rawden, president of the Doctors’ Association UK, said: “Doctors are making extraordinary sacrifices to ensure that they can stay on the frontline during this pandemic. We know that many doctors have taken the difficult decision to live away from their families, including their children, as they worry about spreading the virus.”
The Doctors’ Association has been approached by landlords offering free accommodation to staff near hospitals.
“We are overwhelmed by their generosity,” Dr Batt-Rawden said. “With the news that 140,000 properties near hospitals are empty we hope that councils will support calls to offer these as accommodation to NHS staff so they can continue fighting this pandemic.”