HEALTH authorities have successfully bid for almost £18,000 to give their staff better access to childcare.

Durham and Chester-le-Street, Darlington, Derwentside, Durham Dales, Easington and Sedgefield Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) have received the sum from the County Durham and Tees Valley Workforce Development Confederation.

They will use it to implement the national childcare strategy, which aims to help parents return to work and make the most of the benefits available to them.

The trusts will initially distribute a childcare information pack to each member of their 4,200 staff, before setting up workshops with the Training, Assessment, Resource, Knowledge and Advice (Tarka) organisation.

These are open to all staff and will cover working families tax credit, childcare tax credit and childcare vouchers.

Theresa Huddart, primary care development facilitator for Durham and Chester-le-Street Primary Care Trust, said: "Research has shown that cost is often a significant barrier to parents using childcare to help them to return to work."