Up to 700 psychiatric nursing vacancies nationwide

Psychiatric Nurses Association says overtime for mental health nursing costing €300k a week


The Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) said it has identified up to 700 nursing vacancies in mental health services across the country.

The PNA said its new audit of psychiatric nursing vacancies showed the number of unfilled nursing posts in the mental health services is growing and the organisation said there are now nearly 200 more vacancies throughout the country than when the PNA conducted a similar exercise last year.

PNA General Secretary, Peter Hughes told RTÉ’s News at One pay scales for psychiatric nurses are part of the problem, along with recruitment and retention, and he claimed the Public Sector Pay Commission, which recently examined the issue of public sector pay, had failed to take that into consideration.

He said the recent conclusions by the pay commission on nurse recruitment were “completely inaccurate and misleading.”

The shortfall in mental health nursing staff is made up through overtime and agencies. Mr Hughes said overtime for mental health nursing services was costing the HSE €300,000 a week while the overall weekly nursing overtime bill is €2 million.

The general secretary said the association would prefer if there was no overtime and instead there were the “right amount” of staff to deliver services properly.

“Nurses will do it (overtime) because they want to keep the services going. They would prefer if all the posts were filled.”

The PNA conducted the audit of vacancy figures, explained Mr Hughes, in advance of a specially convened meeting of its National Executive on Wednesday to consider the union’s response to the recent Report of the Public Sector Pay Commission.

The latest figures compiled by the PNA show the scale of the staffing shortage throughout the country.