Psychiatric nurses threaten strike over staffing shortages

Up to 1,000 extra staff needed in mental health services, PNA conference hears

The union says up to 1,000 new nurses are needed to fill 600 current vacancies and to replace retiring staff across the mental health services.

The union says up to 1,000 new nurses are needed to fill 600 current vacancies and to replace retiring staff across the mental health services.

 

The Psychiatric Nurses Association is to vote on proposals for industrial action over staffing shortages in the profession.

Delegates at the association’s annual conference in Co Cavan voted to put a proposal for a ballot on industrial action to a special executive council meeting next month.

The union says up to 1,000 new nurses are needed to fill 600 current vacancies and to replace retiring staff across the mental health services.

General secretary Des Kavanagh said the association could not trust the HSE to guarantee a proper nursing workforce was in place. Nurses had no faith that the strategies being pursued by the HSE to recruit and train nurses would meet the “chronic shortages” faced in the coming years, he said.

‘The shortage of nurses is at crisis proportions and is causing horrendous problems across mental health services. These shortages were easily foreseeable by a Government which was so focussed on cutting numbers of public servants that they acted with complete indifference to the forecasted needs of the sick and disabled.”

“Those who trained as nurses were herded towards airports and ferry ports to populate the health services of other countries, those who remained were penalised with pay cuts, temporary and unstable employment, and extremely difficult working conditions.”

“I understand that having regard to existing vacancies and forecasted retirements we need 1,000 new nurses just to maintain current levels of service without investing in any new developments in accordance with Vision for Change, Primary Care etc. at the same time we are now facing a new moratorium.”

Mr Kavanagh listed the shortages of staff across the country, including 58 in intellectual disability service and 30 in psychiatry in north Dublin and 35 staff in the Central Mental Hospital.

However, he warned against the recruitment of untrained or minimally trained people whose presence would undermine the quality of care and impede the achievement of safe, high quality services