Allowance increase could benefit 18,000 nurses, says Government
Pay Commission finding that nurse retention is not an issue is ‘inaccurate’, says nurses’ group
The Psychiatric Nurses’ Association said it had identified up to 700 nursing vacancies in mental health services across the country. Photograph: Frank Miller
The Government believes that more than 18,000 nurses could benefit from the proposals to increase allowances for those working in certain parts of the health service which are facing staffing difficulties.
The Government also said about 10,000 nurses could benefit from the proposed new measures to address the lower pay rates for staff across the public service recruited since 2011.
Some nurses could benefit from both Government initiatives; however, others may not receive anything extra at all.
The Minister for Public Expenditure, Paschal Donohoe, insisted on Monday that the proposals to address the two-tier pay system – which could be worth more than €3,000 on average to public service staff over time – would only be available to those groups that remained inside the existing public service pay agreement, which runs until 2020.
He maintained that the Government would not be offering any more money to staff than set out under the new proposals.
The Psychiatric Nurses’ Association (PNA) argued on Tuesday that the finding of the Pay Commission, that there was no issue in general regarding nurse retention, was “completely inaccurate and misleading”.
The union said it had identified up to 700 nursing vacancies in mental health services across the country.
The PNA said its latest audit of psychiatric nursing vacancies showed the number of unfilled nursing posts in the mental health services was growing. It said there were are now nearly 200 more vacancies throughout the country than when the PNA conducted a similar exercise last year.
The PNA maintained there were 88 vacancies at St Ita’s Hospital in Portrane, in north Co Dublin, 56 in Dublin north city, 62 in Galway and 46 in Louth/Meath.
PNA general secretary Peter Hughes said the Pay Commission had completely ignored the scale of the mounting recruitment and retention crisis facing the mental health services.
“Over a year ago the PNA pointed out that HSE figures from as recently as 2016 revealed that, due to the age profile of psychiatric nurses, there is potential for up to 1,752 psychiatric nurses to retire immediately or within the next five years – equating to 34.2 per cent of the mental health nursing workforce,” said Mr Hughes. “PNA’s new figures confirm that the number of nursing vacancies is in fact growing annually.”
He said the conclusion of the Pay Commission that there is no issue with nurse recruitment is completely at odds with the evidence and experience of psychiatric nurses across the mental health services.