Nurses to begin work-to-rule over assaults


PSYCHIATRIC NURSES in Galway will begin industrial action today in protest at what they call “frightening levels of assault”.

The Psychiatric Nurses’ Association said members at the child and adolescent unit in Merlin Park, Galway, would take part in a work-to-rule this week, and warned the action would escalate if management failed to deliver a safe work place. The association said that since the unit was opened a year ago, there had been more than 190 assaults against nurses.

It had been forced into industrial action “due to the failure of HSE management to respond to the frightening level of assaults on nurses in the unit”. As part of the work-to-rule, nurses are expected to refuse to answer phones or to use their private cars for official purposes. The group’s industrial relations officer, Declan Breen, said: “The PNA is horrified at the attitude of HSE to its staff in the child and adolescent unit who are subjected to repeated and dangerous assaults.”

The association wants a number of vacant clinical nurse management posts filled; internal policies on violence and management of aggression to be agreed and implemented and brought in line with national standards; and a short-term reduction in the number of beds to allow for the situation to be brought under control.

In a statement, the HSE said it had and would continue to engage with the PNA on the dispute.

“The HSE has engaged with the PNA for some time regarding a number of matters and has also participated in a consultation process under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission but without resolution,” it said.

It said it would seek to “minimise the impact of the action on children and their parents”.