HSE childcare plan 'no use' as 'proper' help demanded for Covid-19 frontline health workers

HSE

Conor Ganly

Reporter:

Conor Ganly

Huge demand for new childcare scheme from Louth families

Childcare during Covid-19 impacting the heatlh service

'Proper' childcare is needed for Covid-19 frontline health staff, according to Laois Offaly TD Brian Stanley who has branded the HSE response of 'no use'. 

The Health Service Executive has confirmed that frontline healthcare workers who cannot attend work due to childcare difficulties will be paid to stay at home, on the basis that they remain available for work from home in other roles.

Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley says this is not enough.

"I am demanding that a proper scheme be put in place to assist frontline health staff with childcare.

“What the HSE has just announced is of no use as almost none of the work that they are trained for can be carried out from home. It would also pull essential staff away from the frontline at a time when there is a pressing need for them in our hospitals and nursing homes.

“Some health workers are in a very difficult situation at the moment as they are trying to work shifts and variable hours providing front line services, while at the same time trying to balance caring for children who are out of school or crèches.

“This is a particular problem for parents with children who have special needs and this can be extremely challenging. It is also difficult for those workers that are single parents and don’t have a network of wider family support. In normal times grandparents would often fulfil this role, but with the Covid 19 restrictions those that have health conditions or who are over seventy are not in a position to do so," he said.

Deputy Stanley said the Government announced a week ago that public sector employees, who had a partner working in the Health Services, could take time off to care for children. He said this is a welcome move but is of no benefit to health care workers that have partners working in essential private sector employment.”

“What is needed is a creative approach by local and national government along with childcare providers. Crèches and schools are rightly closed at this time but there are opportunities to organise limited childcare with the assistance of those who normally work in schools and crèches. This could be organised on a very localised basis and would give health care workers who have children a badly needed break. This could just be for a few hours to do shopping and have some rest time.”

“The importance of supporting frontline health services in Tullamore and Portlaoise Hospital and the large number of nursing homes in Laois and Offaly was never more critical. Many of them are working under enormous pressure. I have raised the need for childcare assistance with the Health Minister and I await his reply. Sinn Féin believes it’s important that we provide the necessary supports for our health care workers during this emergency,” he said.

Childcare facilities have been shut since March to stem the spread fo Covid-19.