Monday 17 December 2018

Parents call to recruit nurses for St Joseph's

Simon McCafferty, Eamonn Tierney and Gerry McDonald
Simon McCafferty, Eamonn Tierney and Gerry McDonald

John Manning

The families of those attending St Joseph's Intellectual Disability Services in Portrane are concerned about continuing staff shortages at the facility which are being blamed on the difficulties in recruiting nurses.

Eamonn Tierney who chairs the St Joseph's Association, a group of parents and friends of services users said they have been pushing this issue now for two years 'with little or no progress'.

Mr Tierney said he was 'aware of the efforts that the service and the HSE have been making to recruit nurses for St Joseph's but the situation remains the same and remains critical'.

The group have held meetings with senior officials in the HSE on the issue as well as Minister of State, Finian McGrath TD over the last year, but keep getting the same reply that 'all measures are being taken to recruit but without success'.

Mr Tierney said there is a shortfall of between 55 and 70 nurses at the facility, with staffing at a level about 25% below where it should be.

Mr Tierney said that both the residential and day services at St Joseph's are being impacted by the staff shortage and said 'the situation must be addressed'.

He said that his association has now put a proposal on the table, calling on the HSE and the service to recruit social care staff to fill the positions. He said there were 'lots of qualified people' in that area without jobs which could be utilised in St Joseph's.

The problem in recruiting nurses for the service was outlined by the HSE last year when it responded to a query from local TD, Deputy Alan Farrell who then called for staff shortages at St Joseph's to be 'addressed urgently'.

Deputy Farrell explained at that time: 'The HSE have informed me that the staff shortages have largely resulted from basic nurse grades being promoted to senior posts, and this has caused a number of vacancies at basic grade level. However, from the information I have received, the HSE have attempted to fill these vaccines but have not successful done so as of yet. I do not believe the situation as it currently stands can be accepted.'

According to Mr Tierney, that situation has not changed and that difficult in recruiting nurses to the service remains.

Deputy Farrell said he understood 'that difficulties may exist in terms of encouraging nurses to take positions in the Dublin region due to the higher cost of living, and this is an issue which Government must tackle through addressing the pay needs of entry level nurses'.

He said: 'I believe the appropriate action must be taken to ensure these vacancies are filled with the utmost urgency.'

Mr Tierney whose daughter uses the service, said that a year on, nothing has changed and the urgency of addressing the staff shortage at St Joseph's is even greater today.

Fingal Independent