Key worker childcare must remain until schools fully open, says Bradshaw

Alliance Health spokesperson Paula Bradshaw MLA has called for the Health Minister to work with the health and social care trusts to ensure childcare for key workers will remain until schools are fully re-opened.

South Belfast MLA Ms Bradshaw said unless key workers were assured they will have continued access to childcare, the nursing profession could collapse in the next few months.

“The public expressed its gratitude and admiration of key workers on the doorsteps every Thursday and now is the time for those of us elected by the public to put that symbolic expression into practical support for them at this extraordinarily difficult time,” she said.

“As we have passed the peak, it is understandable nurses in particular, who have done such a superb job while putting their own lives at risk, are feeling exhausted and are frustrated issues such as safe staffing and fair pay are still unresolved.

“However, another obvious, urgent and understandable concern is nurses are now having to seek career breaks or reduced hours just to manage childcare because the Trust-faciliated childcare is only interim, and future availability to key workers is not guaranteed, particularly with regard to the potential for phased return of classes.

“Nurses and other key workers have already faced enough anxiety. There should be an immediate statement, with budgets laid out, assuring key workers they will have access to childcare right through until full-time attendance at school is possible across all five Trusts. The alternative will mean nurses will simply have to drop away from the frontline at just the moment we need to support them to rebuild and reform health and social care.”