Wednesday 16 October 2019

'Significant' disruption to mental health services today

A placard at a previous PNA demonstration in Dublin. Photo: Doug O'Connor
A placard at a previous PNA demonstration in Dublin. Photo: Doug O'Connor

Anne-Marie Walsh and Eilish O'Regan

Mental health services face "significant" disruption today when nurses refuse to work overtime, the HSE has warned.

Members of the Psychiatric Nurses Association are planning a ban on overtime.

They will refuse to work beyond their contracted hours in a row over pay rises.

In a statement, the HSE said managers are currently assessing the situation on a service-by-service basis to see what impact the withdrawal of overtime will have.

"It is likely that the withdrawal of co-operation with overtime will have a significant impact on services and contingency planning is required to ensure that those patients most at risk are cared for," it said.

Agency workers are likely to be drafted in to maintain services, particularly in hospitals where staffing levels are already tight. A union spokesperson said the overtime ban was a response to a lack of meaningful progress at talks with the HSE.

The nurses want improvements in pay and conditions, claiming there is a recruitment and retention crisis.

Their union previously suspended industrial action along with the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation to attend talks at the Labour Court earlier this year in the same dispute. Although the INMO accepted a deal worth more than €35m after calling off strikes, the psychiatric nurses' dispute was not resolved.

Meanwhile, talks to avert the threat of a three-day strike by 10,000 hospital support staff were held at the Labour Court yesterday. Siptu agreed to defer the stoppages that were due to take place last week at the court's request.

The talks adjourned at around 11pm last night. The Labour Court is reflecting on the position of the parties and is considering if further engagement is necessary.

Surgeries and other treatments were cancelled when the workers, including porters, chefs and healthcare assistants, held a 24-hour strike last month. They want the Government to honour a commitment to give pay rises worth €19m they claim are due under a job evaluation scheme.

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News