Headlines: February 6th, 2004

A new report has shown that National Health Service’s Childcare Strategy is helping to recruit and retain vital staff. It shows that almost a third of parents felt the strategy had helped them to stay in work or to return to it.The report, produced by the national childcare charity Daycare Trust, also reveals that just over eight out of ten parents working in the NHS felt it had been helpful in meeting their childcare needs. But the report also identifies areas where childcare provision could be improved and where work needs to be done locally.

Other findings from the study show that 31 per cent of parents said it reduced the amount of absences or leave they had to take to care for a child and 26 per cent said the childcare strategy had been a factor in improving their job satisfaction or morale.

NHS nurseries and holiday play schemes were seen as being particularly effective and parents found them more affordable and of better quality than non-NHS nurseries. The report also found a wide range of support and advice being provided by the 230-plus local NHS childcare coordinators.Turning to areas for improvement it says some NHS organisations fail to use the fact that they have good quality childcare provision in their recruitment campaigns. There was also a need for more provision for children aged 11 and over during school holidays, as well as for before- and after-school clubs.

The Director of the Daycare Trust, Stephen Burke, said employers who helped working parents with childcare could reap huge benefits, including improved staff retention and higher productivity. The NHS had taken the lead in this area and the report showed how its strategy was creating a more loyal and motivated workforce. Sarah Jackson, Chief Executive of the charity Working Families also called for other employers to take note of the report’s findings.