Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the Government is ready to push the button on providing childcare to essential healthcare workers.

However, he said it needed public health clearance in order for the initiative to go ahead. 

Mr Varadkar said a number of proposals have been put together which were being considered by the National Public Health Emergency Team.

The Taoiseach said it was not an issue of money or staff available, it was an issue of public health clearance. 

He said this was something the Government really wanted to do and he said it was taking much longer than the Government would like.

The Department of Children and Youth Affairs has said it "stands ready to support any request from Government and the National Public Health Emergency Team in relation to a childcare service for frontline healthcare workers".

It issued a statement to RTÉ's News at One following a request for an update on efforts to provide childcare for healthcare workers.

The general secretary of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) Phil Ní Sheaghdha said its Covid-19 freephone number is receiving as many calls about childcare concerns as it is about protective equipment. 

She said any proposal put forward must not cost its members "money to go to work" and must provide "vetted and safe childcare."

Earlier today Ms Ní Sheaghdha told the Seán O'Rourke programme that members are paying as much as €110 a day for childcare to go to work while schools and creches are closed.

She has placed a Freedom on Information request to try and reveal what the delay is among four different government departments in putting some childcare plan in place for nurses.

INMO general secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha (Pic: RollingNews.ie)

She told RTÉ that "this needs to be sorted out now" as it is four weeks since the issued was first raised with  the Department of Expenditure and Public Reform.

Last week, Health Minister Simon Harris said the Government would be going forward with proposals to provide childcare for healthcare workers in "the coming days" and that his colleague, Minister for Children Katherine Zappone, had been "working very intensively on this".