Psychiatric nurses suspend overtime ban in row with HSE

Action would have led to significant disruption to mental health services


An overtime ban by psychiatric nurses , which would have led to significant disruption to mental health services, has been suspended.

The Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) said a number of issues at the heart of the current dispute over pay and staffing were now to be referred to the Labour Court.

The PNA also said as part of talks over recent days health service management had approved more than 200 nursing posts “to alleviate the reliance on overtime and agency staff throughout the mental health services”.

The union had planned to put in place an overtime ban from Wednesday evening which the HSE maintained would have caused significant disruption to mental health services.

The union said in a statement: “There has been extensive contact between the PNA and the Workplace Relations Commission in the past 24 hours during which some issues have been resolved with further outstanding issues to be referred to the Labour Court. “

The overtime ban was suspended following a special meeting of the board of the PNA on Wednesday.

In a statement, the HSE said it welcomes the suspension by the PNA of industrial action.

“The action would have had a very significant impact on vulnerable patients in locations across the country. The HSE said it looked forward to the outstanding issues between union and employer being dealt with in the Labour Court,” the statement said. “The HSE strongly supports the referral of the outstanding matters to the Labour Court.”

The HSE had warned that if the ban on overtime went ahead, the majority of community mental health services were likely to be cancelled in the days ahead to allow it to re-deploy staff to acute services.

The country’s mental health services are very reliant on overtime and the use of staff provided though agencies.

Last year the HSE paid out nearly €16 million on both overtime and agency staff in the mental health service.

The PNA is seeking an extension of allowances to more psychiatric nurses and to retain existing pay differentials between its members and general nurses and midwives as part of an overall deal to address recruitment and retention issues.