Saturday 23 February 2019

Mental health services facing crisis as psychiatric nurses announce strike action

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Eilish O’Regan

Mental health services are facing crisis following a strike threat by psychiatric nurses.

The 6,000-strong Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) announced the planned action today.

It will begin with a ban on overtime and escalate to strike action.

PNA members will not be available to work overtime on January 31 or February 1.

The same overtime ban is planned for February 5,6, and 7.

They will strike on February 12, 13, and 14.

They said the escalating campaign of action is in response to the Government’s failure to address the recruitment and retention crisis in nursing.

The ballot for industrial action up to and including strike "followed the rejection by the PNA of the totally inadequate proposals in the Public Pay Commission Report in September to address the recruitment and retention crisis in nursing," said a spokesman.

The PNA represents approximately 6,000 nurses working throughout the country.

Commenting, 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 and is seriously impacting on service delivery and patient care.

"The recruitment and retention of nurses within the Irish healthcare system needs to be addressed with realistic proposals from Government as a matter of extreme urgency."

Earlier this week the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation said they would strike on several dates, beginning on January 30.

It will mean they will only provide emergency cover.

Talks are planned between the HSE and the unions next week.

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