Dumbarton's MSP is calling on councils to ensure police officers and food retail and pharmacy staff are getting adequate childcare provision the amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Jackie Baillie says local authorities can be helped in doing this if the Scottish Government gives them extra guidance about which key workers should be getting the support.

The MSP spoke out after reports that key workers such as police officers and food retail and pharmacy staff did not have access to childcare provision, making it difficult for them to continue to carry out their jobs

However, Deputy First Minister John Swinney has told the MSP that the Government had deliberately left flexibility about childcare in the hands of local authorities to take account of local circumstances.

In response, Ms Baillie said councils needed clarity to avoid "a myriad of different approaches" being taken.

She is urging the government to give full support to Category 2 workers, which includes police officers and food retail staff.

The MSP added: “We all know how important it is to ensure that our key workers are able to carry out their work at this time.

"Individuals such as those working within the police force and the pharmacy and food retail sector are risking their health in order to ensure that we are protected and supported during this uncertain time.

"The least the government can do is to make sure they can access childcare so that they can keep working."

Mr Swinney said he understood the seriousness of the issues that Jackie Baillie raises, but the government had to minimise the number of children who are brought into learning and childcare settings.

He added: "If we do not do that, we will defeat the public health advice that is driving this exercise.

"I am sorry if that sounds hard, but we must be conscious of the need to limit the number of children who come into such settings.

"That is why I appeal to employers and families to follow the tiered guidance that we have put in place, which is about trying to find alternative solutions for childcare before trying to secure places in childcare settings through local authority provision."

A spokesperson for West Dunbartonshire Council said: "Schools have been closed as a health measure to help slow the spread of the virus and save lives and therefore places in each hub must be kept to a minimum.

"We are working within existing guidance to provide emergency childcare for key workers with priority given to those in greatest need."