The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation has been highly critical of the government’s childcare proposal for medical workers, saying that it is “worse than irrelevant” for most of their members.
The government announced plans earlier this week for the partners of healthcare workers to receive paid leave to assist with childcare.
However this plan only applies to people who work in the public sector, and delivers nothing for single parents, or medical workers whose partners are privately employed.
The INMO strongly criticised the scheme, on the basis that many workers do not fall within this “old-fashioned” concept of family structures.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar acknowledged that the plan, which is due to be rolled out next week, is “no good” for many healthcare workers, and that they may have to wait until May 5 for supports to be introduced.
But even under the limited support structure of this scheme, the union warned that many of its members who might benefit could find that their partners are doing “essential” work and can’t take leave for childcare.
Phil Ní Sheaghdha, INMO General Secretary, said that for most of their members with childcare needs this plan is “worse than irrelevant”.
“It actively discriminates against single parents and many modern families, who will still have the same problems in relation to childcare provision.”
The union has been seeking a solution for its members for more than a month, she added, saying that they have been “bounced” between government departments, and given “endless deadlines” for decisions by the NPHET.
“Ireland’s nurses and midwives are risking their lives to provide care. The very least that the state can do is take care of their children when they go to work.
“Instead, our members are told to simply get on with it – forced to choose between caring for patients or their children.”
“During this pandemic, our union and professions have worked hard to be constructive and collaborative. We wish to continue that approach, but the government cannot take our members’ hard work for granted.”
Another measure which is being considered by the NPHET would involve childminders going to the homes of healthcare workers. But there have been concerns that this would involve mixing households, and risking further spread of the coronavirus.