Free childcare offer prompts ministerial visit

Posted: November 28, 2016

Trust staff benefit from double the number of free hours

Staff at the Great Western Hospital who are making the most of 30 hours of free childcare every week have told an MP about the benefits of the scheme.

Caroline Dinenage, Minister for Early Years, paid a visit to the Swindon hospital on Monday 28 November to speak with staff whose childcare arrangements have been supported by this near-exclusive offer.

Currently, all parents with either a three or four-year-old can receive 15 hours of free childcare from the government. 

However, a new Department for Education initiative being piloted in Swindon means staff at GWH are among the first in the country to benefit from double the usual entitlement. 

Oonagh Fitzgerald, Director of Human Resources, welcomed the minister to the Trust before introducing her to members of staff whose little ones are already signed up. 

She said: "A career in healthcare is one that's not usually nine-to-five, which can make finding childcare difficult.
 
"To have been among the first employers in the country to offer 30 hours of free childcare was a real privilege and a fantastic reward for our staff who do such amazing work each and every day.
 
"We were delighted by Caroline's visit and hope that, by meeting the people benefiting from the scheme, she has been able to get a feel for the positive difference it has made to so many."

The minster was also given a tour of the Co-operative Nursery, located next to the Commonhead Offices, where she saw firsthand the childcare facilities available to parents within the Trust.

Staff can still apply

Spaces for the year-long scheme, which began in September, are still available.

However, as places are limited, staff must satisfy the below criteria before being eligible to take part:

  • Have a child aged either three or four years
     
  • Live within the borough of Swindon
     
  • Earn at least £115 a week and have an income of less than £100,000 a year
     
  • Agree to the childcare being provided in Swindon

It is hoped that as many staff as possible will take advantage of this scheme, ahead of a national roll out to all eligible parents from September 2017.

For more information and to apply, contact Ruth Scott, Assistant HR Business Partner, on 01793 604955 or ruth.scott@gwh.nhs.uk.

Photos from the visit

Caroline Dinenage MP visit 161128 07

Caroline Dinenage MP visit 161128 01

Caroline Dinenage MP visit 161128 02

Caroline Dinenage MP visit 161128 04

Caroline Dinenage MP visit 161128 05

Caroline Dinenage MP visit 161128 06

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