MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Alasdair Allan, has welcomed the decision announced today by NHS Western Isles that they will become an alternative provider for An Cotan Childcare Centre.
An Cotan has been operated by UHI Outer Hebrides for over 20 years, but they announced in March their intention to consult on the centre’s closure as a result of staff recruitment issues and financial challenges. An Cotan is one of only two settings in Lewis which provide care for children under the age of three, with many key workers reliant on it for the childcare which allows them to go to work.
Since December, the islands’ MSP has been advocating on behalf of parents and staff regarding the need for this childcare provision to continue, as its closure would have had a severe impact across the local community, and could have pushed young families to move away to the mainland.
Commenting after today’s announcement, Alasdair Allan said:
“I am grateful to the health board for all of their efforts in recent months investigating the feasibility of taking over this childcare service, which is so vital for a large number of local NHS and other workers. UHI, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and NHS Western Isles have been working closely with one another to find a solution, and it will be a great relief to local parents that this provision will be able to continue.
“According to the NHS’s report, it is likely that fees will have to be raised to be more in line with the national average, and staffing recruitment could still pose a challenge. However, wages will be significantly increased, which should help attract and retain qualified staff for this setting.”