A new play scheme for the children of NHS staff has been formally opened at Ashford (Middlesex) Hospital. The ‘Hop, Skip and Jump’ scheme, which has been a year in development, was opened by Ashford & St. Peter’s Hospitals NHS Trust Non Executive Director, Mary Riley. The £180,000 building was put in place by building contractor Sweeney and was registered by Ofsted in time for a play scheme to be in operation all this week during half term. The scheme cost £5,000 to equip and staffing costs are £8,000 per year.

Surrey and Sussex Strategic Health Authority and the Sure Start ‘Out of School’ programme awarded funds for the scheme in February 2004 following a joint application by North Surrey Primary Care Trust, North West Surrey Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust and Ashford and St. Peters Hospitals NHS Trust.

Opening the scheme Mrs Riley said: “We were delighted to be able to open this play scheme in time for the half term holiday. This provides the flexibility and peace of mind NHS staff need. It is important that they know that their children are safe and well whilst they provide an invaluable service to the local community – whether working in our doctors surgeries, in the community, in mental health or in our acute hospitals. Good childcare facilities are attractive for staff and improve our ability to recruit and retain people. Everyone involved in the development of this brand new building and scheme are to be congratulated.”

The play scheme is managed and run by Ashford and St. Peter’s Hospitals NHS Trust. The Trust also manages a play scheme at St. Peter’s Hospital, Chertsey and nurseries at both Ashford and St. Peter’s hospitals.

The ‘Hop, Skip and Jump’ play scheme provides children with many activities to keep them happily and safely occupied during school holidays. The aim of the scheme is to provide local NHS staff and local residents with a much needed and valuable child care resource, which enables parents to continue working knowing that their children are occupied and happy within a safe and caring environment. Good childcare facilities enable us to improve working lives and will help staff recruitment and staff retention across the local NHS.

Julia Petre, an Equipment Library Assistant at Ashford Hospital, whose son Harry (7) attended the half term playscheme said: “Knowing that Harry is safely occupied during the holidays means that I can work when previously I would have had to take time off. This is a very good initiative and should help to attract more staff to the Trust.”

The ‘Hop Skip and Jump’ play scheme at Ashford is situated next to and co-ordinated by the First Steps Nursery. ‘Hop Skip and Jump’ is registered with Ofsted for 24 Children from the age of four to ten years eleven months. Four-year-olds must be at full time school. These places are available during all school holidays for local residents, staff who work on the Ashford Hospital site and in neighbouring NHS services.

The play scheme is open from 8am to 5.30 pm. Places are offered on a full time or part time basis. Places are available flexibly to enable parents to meet their working needs.

 

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