A “huge gap” to NHS pay levels is challenging services for children with complex needs, MSPs have been told.
Rami Okasha, chief executive of Children’s Hospices Across Scotland (CHAS), said children with complex needs required people with nursing-level skills who often receive higher salaries in the NHS.
On Thursday, Holyrood’s Social Justice Committee heard evidence from groups in the childcare sector.
MSPs were told of the financial pressures facing childcare providers.
Both the Scottish and UK governments intend to expand free childcare provision over the next few years.
Mr Okasha explained that CHAS, which helps families of children with life-shortening conditions, is not directly a childcare provider.
He said high levels of skill are required for those looking after children with complex needs, saying: “The salary reference point is the NHS.
“So, you’re looking for people with pretty much the skills you would need to be providing nursing or nursing support work.
“But we’re doing it outwith the NHS and there is a huge gap emerging between NHS pay and non-NHS pay for those skills.
“That’s a real challenge for non-NHS healthcare providers.”
Susan McGhee, chief executive of Flexible Childcare Services Scotland, also told the committee about the effects of rising costs on the sector.
She said: “In some areas where we’ve been using local authority premises rents have risen massively.”
Funding is not keeping up with increases to the real living wage, she said, adding: “It’s sort of like being hit from all sides here at the moment – trying to provide a service that meets parents’ needs and the costs are going up and up to be able to do that.”