Health trusts provide on-demand childcare

The NHS is tackling absenteeism by promoting an innovative staff benefit that allows parents to find emergency childcare with less than an hour’s notice.

Doctors, nurses and admin staff at 22 London NHS trusts are receiving a 10% discount to use the Emergency Childcare Service. A website allows parents to find and book a nanny or local nursery place as and when it is needed.

Official government figures show the difficulties parents face when there is a problem with their regular childcare. Parents who work have childcare problems, on average, nine times a year, with 89% having to take time off as a result.

Ann Munday, childcare lead at the South West London Strategic Health Authority, said the service was part of a wider NHS strategy to provide affordable childcare.

“Anecdotally, we knew that emergency childcare was a problem for staff and we needed to find a solution. This is just another option for working parents,” she said.

The system has been developed by Tinies, a provider of nursery staff and nannies. More than 400 nurseries and 500 nannies are on the site’s database.

As well as the London-based NHS trusts already involved in the scheme, private sector employers -including City banks and law firms – are in advanced negotiations to provide the staff benefit. Other NHS trusts are also monitoring the scheme.

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