Psychiatric nurses in Laois Offaly (members of the PNA), are to commence a ballot forindustrial action tomorrow this Thursday, April 28 in response to chronic understaffing of
mental health services in the region.
There are currently 29 vacancies, equivalent to 1 in 5 nursing posts in the Laois/Offaly services. Nurses are now being taken from community mental health services in an effort to fill the growing numbers of vacancies in the acute services.
PNA General Secretary Designate, Peter Hughes said nurses in Laois Offaly are no longer prepared to facilitate the ‘crisis management’ of services which relies on overworked nurses, recently qualified nurses on temporary contracts and a slow depletion of community nursing posts.
“Nurses in Laois Offaly have had enough and will not continue to prop up mental health services that are chronically understaffed and where nurses are being redeployed to the detriment of vital community services.”
“We know that replacement and recruitment forms to fill posts in Laois Offaly are sitting on desks for up to three months before even being passed to the national HSE recruitment service.
“It seems local and national HSE management are content to rely on temporary and short term measures to keep services going rather than seriously move to fill nursing posts on a permanent full time basis.”
“It is unacceptable that nurses are being withdrawn from community services to fill vacancies elsewhere in the system.
“ The tragic events in the Laois Offaly region in recent weeks shows the need for comprehensive community mental health services and we know that when community services are unavailable then more pressure comes on acute psychiatric services.
“The understaffing in Laois Offaly is just one example of the wider staffing problems that are emerging across the mental health services.
“The PNA Annual Delegate Conference earlier this month heard that figures from across the country show that there are up to 700 vacant posts in the mental health services with up to 1,000 nurses needed to fill current and emerging vacancies.”