Health workers deemed essential during the Covid-19 emergency are having to take annual leave or call in sick because of a lack of childcare since schools and creches closed, according to the country's largest trade union SIPTU.

The union has reiterated its call on the Government to publish its plan for providing childcare for health and other essential workers to ensure they can continue to deliver services during the pandemic.

SIPTU health division organiser  Paul Bell noted that the Government had promised to introduce a childcare plan two weeks ago.

However, he said that despite coronavirus restrictions being extended, no childcare plan has materialised.

Mr Bell said members were professional, committed, flexible and compassionate workers, committed to doing whatever it took to defeat the virus.

"However, many are now reporting that the stress of working in an environment that deals with life and death on a daily basis is being compounded with the uncertainty of not having the proper support to take care of their children".

Mr Bell said the fact that many health workers were married to or had partners who also worked in the health service was having a major knock on across all grades and services.

"Some members have reported to their union officials that they have had to request emergency annual leave or in some cases call in sick in order to take care of children or to allow their husband, wife or partner to attend work on the frontline," he said.

Mr Bell concluded by saying that SIPTU is appealing to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister for Health Simon Harris to immediately publish the Government's proposals for the provision of childcare for health and essential workers.

Responding to a number of queries on this issue over recent weeks, the Government has only stated that it is "actively considering" the issue.