Greater clarity on how childcare services can operate safely is needed so more doctors are able to go to work and provide patient care in the time of national crisis, according to the British Medical Association.
It says any introduction of more people back into the workplace needs to be gradual. It needs to be very carefully monitored to ensure it does not create a spike in infection rates. Childcare providers need to be confident they have the best guidance and resources to re-open safely and they need more financial support and security so that they can continue to operate with reduced numbers for months to come.
The uncertainty around childcare provision means ongoing problems and anxieties for thousands of healthcare workers.
Those who do find childcare are often paying much higher fees because of short-notice rota changes and longer shifts. In normal times it is challenging to get childcare last-minute and during unsocial hours, yet alone now. The later that parents receive their rotas, the more costly their childcare is likely to be or the less likely they will be able to work that shift.
Doctors have faced emotional and financial stress accessing childcare
For doctors who are using the childcare available, the BMA is calling for better support in finding childcare and reimbursement of additional childcare costs that doctors are facing while working during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The doctors’ union is calling on government to acknowledge the additional emotional and financial stress many have faced trying to access childcare whilst working during the outbreak.
Dr Helena McKeown, Chair of the BMA Representative Body, said: "Doctors are on the front line of the national response to Covid-19. Many are parents, and it’s only right that the government supports them so that they can care for patients, knowing their own children are being safely cared for, reducing additional stress and costs.
"Inadequate childcare provision is keeping doctors who are fit and able to go to work at home when the NHS needs them more than ever. Difficulties in finding childcare cover and paying for it is taking a toll on our members, and no doubt many other frontline and key workers, and their families at this time of national crisis.
"We also have concerns that if early years childcare providers go out of business as a result of the COVID-19 crisis this will have longer term impacts on our members’ work, family lives and potentially widen gender inequalities in the medical profession."