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Psychiatric Nurses Association to Strike, Demanding Withdrawal of Recruitment Ban

Dublin: The Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) is set to strike, demanding the withdrawal of the recruitment ban imposed last November. The organisation has already issued a notice to the Health Service Executive (HSE) regarding their intent to strike.

An overwhelming 96% of the PNA’s 7,000 members voted in favour of the strike. The association emphasises that this action is not about seeking higher wages but about safeguarding patient lives.

Crisis in Mental Health Care

Nurses in the mental health sector are facing severe challenges. The PNA accuses the HSE of exacerbating the crisis by refusing to lift the recruitment ban.

When the ban was imposed last year, there were 300 vacancies for psychiatric nurses nationwide. This number has since risen to 725.

PNA General Secretary Peter Hughes stated that the country’s mental health service is at a critical juncture, with many crucial positions remaining unfilled. This situation, Hughes warned, poses significant dangers. The recently released annual report of the Mental Health Commission also highlights the staffing crisis, noting that inpatient centres are struggling to meet standards in staffing, care planning, and risk management.

According to Hughes, the conditions described in the Mental Health Commission’s report have only worsened since the recruitment ban last November.

HSE’s Position

Despite the recruitment suspension, the HSE claims that the number of psychiatric nurses has actually increased. The HSE has expressed willingness to discuss the issues raised by the PNA.

The PNA’s notice has also sparked debate in the Dáil. Labour’s Ivana Bacik raised the issue with Health Minister Stephen Donnelly. The minister urged the PNA to engage in discussions with the HSE and emphasised the importance of not limiting services to patients. Minister Donnelly reiterated the HSE’s statement that 175 nurses have been appointed to mental health roles even after the recruitment ban.

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