Local psychiatric nurses may strike

Around 70 psychiatric nurses in Co. Roscommon are balloting to go on strike because of the ‘staffing crisis’ in the mental health services.

  Last Friday it was announced that the national executive committee of the Psychiatric Nurses’ Association (PNA) had sanctioned the start of a national ballot of its members for industrial action, up to and including strike. The ballot will take two weeks to complete.

  Peter Hughes, the PNA General Secretary-Designate, said that all reasonable efforts by PNA to get the Health Service Executive to acknowledge and respond meaningfully to the ‘staffing crisis’ had failed. Staffing levels among psychiatric nurses in Co. Roscommon have greatly reduced in recent years: in September 2010, there were 93 nursing posts in the county, but last October there was only 69.

  Breege Callaghan, the PNA’s western regional representative, said that, because of the staff shortage, there was an over-reliance on agency and overtime work, which was causing financial problems.

  “It is causing a huge overrun in the budgets,” she said. “We are going to end up bankrupt before the end of the year.” The HSE did not respond to requests for comment on the strike threat.

            * Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice has called on the new Government to take the mental health ‘crisis’ seriously.

             He said that the mental health blueprint ‘Vision for Change’ should be implemented and that this process should start as soon as possible. Deputy Fitzmaurice called for more funding to be set aside for Vision for Change and mental health in general.