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PNA to consider budget cut at special NEC meeting to decide on ballot for industrial action

The Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) said (Thursday) that the move to divert part of the mental health budget to other parts of the health services, as confirmed today by the Minister for Health Leo Varadkar, is deplorable and must not go ahead.

PNA General Secretary, Peter Hughes said the move to reallocate €12 million of the mental health budget this year will be considered by a special meeting of the PNA NEC which has been convened for May 11 th . to consider a ballot for industrial action in response to the staffing crisis in the mental health services.

Peter Hughes said : ‘ The news of this reallocation of the mental health budget , which Leo Varadkar has now confirmed, will anger staff, services users and their families throughout the country who are struggling with services that are hugely underfunded and understaffed. This was confirmed by PNA at its ADC last week where figures from across the country showed 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.

‘Yet again the mental health budget is being raided to allow for a HSE accounting exercise to fill a hole elsewhere in the health budget for this year. This fully reflects the attitude of the Government and the Department of Health to the mental health services and gives the lie to the lip service paid by all of the political parties in the run up to the General Election to their concern for the crisis in mental health in the country.'

‘PNA is calling on the Minister to honour repeated commitments given by Minister of State, Kathleen Lynch that the mental health budget would be ‘ring fenced' and protected rather than being used yet again as the emergency fund to fill holes elsewhere in the health budget.'

Media Contact: Derek Cunningham 086 -2430535