Swine flu: volunteer babysitters considered to watch medics’ children

NHS workers in Scotland attending to a major swine flu outbreak could see local volunteers and teachers recruited to babysit their children, the Scotsman has reported.

Emergency plans are being drawn up in the Lothians to house children in schools and other centres while their parents care for H1N1 victims.

About 20,000 NHS Lothian workers with young children would be able to work evenings and weekends under the contingency plans.

Experts believe the second wave of the infection is approaching.

NHS Lothian’s vice-chairman, Eddie Egan, said: “We have asked if we could get NHS Lothian staff’s kids to schools. It’s a major risk so we are trying to mitigate that. The use of volunteers would also be looked at.”

HR director Alan Boyter added: “Using a school and teachers could be one of the ways we could circumvent the problem.”

The NHS is also considering asking former nurses to step out of retirement and arranging for medical students to be temporarily promoted to cope with demands.

The newspaper also reported that the European Working Time Directive, recently brought in to cap the hours which nurses and doctors can work to 48 per week, would be temporarily abandoned until the situation was brought under control.

NHS Lothian employs 28,000 staff, of whom around 20,000 are thought to be parents with children who would require looking after.

It is anticipated the swine flu vaccine will arrive sometime next month, and 55,000 doses a week will be administered, with priority being given to at-risk people such as asthmatics, pregnant women and others in poor health.

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