Mental health patients to be hit by nurses' pay strike
Mental health services risk being plunged into chaos if psychiatric nurses strike over pay next month.
Emergency cover will be provided but thousands of vulnerable patients will see clinics cancelled. The 6,000-strong Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) said its campaign will begin with a ban on overtime and escalate to strike action.
They will not work overtime on January 31 or February 1. The same ban is planned for February 5, 6, and 7, but they will strike on February 12, 13, and 14.
PNA general secretary Peter Hughes said: "The recruitment and retention crisis in psychiatric nursing is escalating on a monthly basis. With a 40pc increase in vacancies from November 2017 to September 2018, the level of vacancies is totally unsustainable.
"The recruitment and retention of nurses within the Irish healthcare system needs to be addressed with realistic proposals from Government."
Earlier this week the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation said it would strike on several dates, beginning on January 30.
Disability Minister Finian McGrath has broken ranks with the Government to say he is "sympathetic to the nurses' plight". He said the action should be avoided but insisted that he appreciated the "feeling among nurses" about pay and conditions. The minister made his views known to Government in recent days.
"We need to listen to the concerns of the unions, but we also need to be aware of the terms of the public service pay agreement.
"I am not going to be member of a government that brings the public finances over a cliff again," he added.