Wednesday 17 July 2019

Nurses' overtime ban disrupts mental health clinics

Health talks: Minister Simon Harris and Health Department chief nursing officer Siobhan O'Halloran at the launch of a new policy document aimed at developing advanced nursing and midwifery practices yesterday. Photo: Leah Farrell
Health talks: Minister Simon Harris and Health Department chief nursing officer Siobhan O'Halloran at the launch of a new policy document aimed at developing advanced nursing and midwifery practices yesterday. Photo: Leah Farrell
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

A number of community mental health clinics were cancelled and in-patient services in the Central Mental Hospital and other facilities disrupted yesterday as thousands of psychiatric nurses imposed an overtime ban.

The nurses, who are members of the Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA), are taking the action as part of their long-running pay campaign and the failure to resolve grievances at the Workplace Relations Commission.

Although the action is not affecting normal shifts, it means overtime is banned in the services which are highly reliant on nurses doing extra hours due to there being around 700 vacancies.

Areas which suffered disruption included services in Kilkenny, Sligo, Mullingar, Limerick and Kerry.

Staff had to be redeployed from some community clinics to take up duty in psychiatric units and hospitals.

In a further complication, some night duty staff could not leave their posts until late morning because of inadequate staffing.

Health Minister Simon Harris appealed to both sides to resume talks.

He also asked the nurses to suspend the action in the interest of patients.

Mr Harris said there was now a "worrying trend" whereby trade unions were entering negotiations, and then staging industrial actions in the middle of that process.

PNA general secretary Peter Hughes said nurses are "irate and frustrated" after suspending their strike action five months ago on the clear understanding the HSE was ready to offer substantial solutions to address the crisis in recruitment and retention.

Irish Independent

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