Wednesday 10 th July : The Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) said from tomorrow (Thursday) psychiatric nurses will work only their contracted hours in response to the lack of any meaningful progress in five months of talks to resolve the growing recruitment and retention crisis in mental health services.

PNA General Secretary, Peter Hughes said nurses are irate and frustrated that they must revert to working only contracted hours having suspended their strike action five months ago on the clear understanding that the HSE was ready to offer substantial solutions to finally address the crisis in recruitment and retention.

‘Over the past five months of talks which have made little if any progress, nurses have shown extraordinary patience as they watch the mental health services struggle with staff shortages. In some services, these shortages amount to over 20% and overall nationally we know that there are 700 vacancies in mental health services. This is not sustainable in a vital area of our health care where demand is growing all the time.'

‘From the ‘get go' PNA has been fully engaged in working to secure a satisfactory outcome in the talks with the  employers represented by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER), Department of Health (DOH) and HSE , and under the auspices of the WRC.  Unfortunately, we have not been convinced that the employer has shown any urgency over the past five months to bring the talks to a conclusion.'

‘Meanwhile, the actions of the HSE have only added to the recruitment  problems in mental health by maintaining  an effective  embargo on recruitment , and not offering permanent posts to this year's graduates, as has been the practice in recent years. This stand by the HSE  has been all the more baffling given that  competition from the  private sector to recruit mental health nurses  has intensified, with significantly improved and attractive salaries on offer.'

‘If the recruitment and retention crisis in mental health is to be addressed and the good will of psychiatric nurses restored, then it will require a clear demonstration of urgency and commitment from the HSE.'

Media contact: Derek Cunningham 086 2430535

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