The PNA met with the Public Sector Pay Commission on Tuesday 15 th May as a follow on to our detailed submission to the Pay Commission last November. The salient points of our submission were verbally presented and re-iterated with updates since our November submission.
The key points raised were:
1 . The impact on service provision due to nursing shortages, e.g.; staffing of the 20 bedded CAMHS unit in the new National Children's Hospital. Staffing of the additional 76 beds in the new National Forensic Services. 120% bed capacity in adult mental health services due to lack of community developments.
2. Competing market forces
UK relocation recruitment packages and UK additional recruitment post Brexit
Competition from the Irish private hospitals and agencies
3. Acknowledgement by HSE testament at Oireachtas Committee meetings on the Future of Mental Health Care in Ireland, i.e.;
Head of Mental Health Division stated:
“ Staff Recruitment in mental health continues to be a significant challenge, resulting in the underdevelopment of mental health teams in certain areas which then impacts on access, targets, and waiting times. The lack of availability of suitably qualified staff also contributes to inadequate out of hours services.”
This was reinforced by the Chief Officer of CHO9 who told the committee at its meeting of the 24 th January 2018, “ the single biggest challenge for mental health services in terms of recruitment is Mental Health Nursing.”
In August 2017, the HSE figures reveal that only 93 new staff were recruited that year despite soaring demand in all areas of the mental health services. The HSE itself admitted that 1963 new posts have to be filled if the level of staffing required in Vision in Change is to be achieved.
The issue of pay anomalies with HCA's and Therapy grades was reiterated.
The PNA outlined that failure to address the pay issue for nursing will result in the continuation of the culture of emigration and will have potentially disastrous implications for the delivery and development of Mental Health Services, which ultimately will have a severe impact on patient care.
The Pay Commission advised they will issue their report at the end of July.