Nursery staff quiz local MP over concerns during coronavirus pandemic

Video report by ITV News Meridian's Kerry Swain

Nursery staff say they are 'under funded, under appreciated and putting themselves at risk', claiming that during the coronavirus crisis they have been a forgotten service.

Owners in Hampshire say despite staying open, so that key workers can continue to do vital jobs, their staff have not been offered Covid testing.

Their comments come after the MP for New Forest West Sir Desmond Swayne, who has been a frequent critic of lockdown measures, agreed to visit Little Angels Nursery in New Milton in Hampshire to listen to concerns.

The MP for New Forest West Sir Desmond Swayne visits Hampshire nursery Credit: ITV News Meridian

Unlike schools, the nursery has remained open to all children throughout the pandemic.

Staff do not wear masks so that the little ones can see their faces, however they are not eligible for Covid testing and are not a priority for vaccination.

Natalie Sandon from Little Angels Nursery said: "I feel that the staff are at quite a high risk because a lot of the children that we do look after are children of key workers.

"Those parents are going to work on the front line doing a fantastic job and we're here supporting them to look after their children so they can continue that job."

She told the MP: "Last Thursday we were added to the social care list meaning we could get vaccines for the staff.

"Straight away online on the government site, booked a vaccine. When arriving, being told they couldn't have those vaccines."

Little Angels Nursery in New Milton Credit: ITV News Meridian

In response to their concerns over vaccinations, Sir Swayne said: "I certainly apologise for the fact that you were led up the garden path, but I do take the view that nursery workers and teachers are in no greater danger than any other profession."

Numbers of children are down as worried parents keep them at home, but costs are up, with the bill for cleaning and protective equipment increasing to more than 1,000%.

When asked what the MP could do to help them, Sir Swayne said: "I certainly didn't make any promises. What I said is that I take on board what I have been told and I will badger ministers about it. That's frankly all I can promise to do."

Natalie Sandon said: "Will it take significant numbers of nurseries closing? Probably, before the government listen but I'm hoping that it doesn't come to that. I'm hoping that they do realise how important we are."