I am writing to update you on our plans for vaccination of front-line healthcare workers in the upcoming weeks. Firstly, I would like to take this opportunity to once again thank you for your hard work and dedication to our patients throughout 2020 and in January 2021, which has been the most difficult month to date for all of us.
Please find attached updated information on the current Covid-19’ vaccination program. As you know, the PNA has expressed its ongoing frustration at how vaccines were being distributed and the belief that some Mental Health settings had been left behind. The PNA issued a press release last Friday, January 22nd, and communicated with the HSE the many frustrating and infuriating examples experienced by our membership.
The Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) today (Friday, 22nd January) expressed serious concerns at the delayed and sporadic roll-out of the Covid -19 vaccine throughout the mental health and intellectual disability (ID) services.
Mr Peter Hughes, PNA General Secretary, said there is growing concern by both staff and service users that they are not being sufficiently prioritised for vaccination and are not being communicated properly with on the scheduling of the vaccine delivery.
He said frontline mental health and intellectual disability staff and service users are among the most vulnerable to infection in the health services, yet they are not being prioritised and many of them are now feeling left behind in the current vaccination roll-out.
At very short notice this evening the PNA were requested to attend a meeting with the Department of Health (DOH) at 7.45 pm in relation to the suspension of student nurse clinical placements. At the meeting the DOH outlined that the HSE had informed them that they would re redeploying staff who support undergraduate training in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In light of this the DOH has decided to suspend clinical placements for years 1 – 3 from Monday 18th for two weeks. The Department confirmed that this placement will not have to be paid back at a later date. The DOH also stated that there is currently no intention to secure the services of year 1 – 3 students as employees. Intern 4th year students will continue on placement.
We have sought clarity in relation to the pay rate for interns and are seeking that they are paid at the higher rate which applied to them last March, i.e.; HCA rate.
We have informed the DOH that we are available over the weekend to engage
The PNA was delighted to collaborate with the Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery and REACH RCSI and stage a play “A Face in the Crowd” on February 4th 2020.
This piece of theatre originated in Co Wexford supported by Wexford Mental Health Association and was created by local individuals for their community, and written by former psychiatric nurse Niall O’Muiri. Born out of the belief that through the telling of real stories of the lived experience of people with Mental Illness we become aware of the recovery process from mental health difficulties, this play provided the opportunity to unearth insights that may better inform our futures.
Thursday 26th November 2020 – The Annual Delegate Conference of the Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) – which is taking place online – has been told that despite growing demand at all levels for mental health services that the percentage of the overall health budget for mental health has actually decreased by 1%.
The conference also heard that up to 200 extra nurses will be required for the full opening of the new National Forensic Mental Health Services in Portrane , in North County Dublin next year.
Commenting on the overall percentage reduction in the mental health budget PNA General Secretary, Peter Hughes told the Conference:
“This is outrageous and clearly highlights the lack of understanding of our politicians of the inadequacy of our current services or the extent of the growing demands for mental health services at every level.”
Since the start of the pandemic the HSE’s Antimicrobial Resistance and Infection Control (AMRIC) has published or updated over 100 guidelines and protocols to help healthcare staff, service providers and the public reduce the spread of COVID-19. Three important new guidelines have been published this month and one update that reflect the Government Framework levels 1 – 5. Please familiarise yourself with guidance that is relevant for your service.
The Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) today (Wednesday ,October 14th ) strongly criticised the Budget 2021 allocation for mental health services as totally inadequate to properly fund the Government’s Sharing the Vision mental health strategy or to meet the mounting level of demand for mental health services, much of which is resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic.
PNA General Secretary, Peter Hughes said the Budget allocation of €50 million to mental health was in reality an extra €38 million with €12million to go to support existing levels of services.
Frontline EMTs continuing to receive incorrect payslips and ongoing issues must be resolved urgently
The ambulance branch of the Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA), said today (Wednesday 2nd Sept) that frontline EMTs (Emergency Medical Technicians ) are continuing to receive incorrect pay slips with payments missing despite assurances from the National Ambulance Service that it had resolved staff shortages in its payroll section.
PNA ambulance branch (NASRA) Secretary, Tony Gregg said that despite the NAS being aware two weeks ago of staff shortages that were impacting on the processing of payments to EMTs they did nothing to resolve the situation and were prepared to allow frontline EMT’s to go without these payments. “These EMTs are frontline workers who have put their safety, and that of their families, on the line in responding to the Covid -19 crisis. They have shown extraordinary bravery and commitment to the health service and the community in the work they have undertaken since the start of the Covid crisis. Despite this, the HSE and the National Ambulance Service allowed the situation to develop and, because of the lack of payroll staff, EMT’s did not have their allowances or overtime processed and paid.”