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Psychiatric nurses have voted to begin industrial action in the coming weeks in protest at the totally inadequate response of the HSE to address the issues of recruitment and retention of nurses throughout the mental health services.

In a national ballot, nurses voted 87% in favour of industrial action up to and including strike action. The Board of the Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) will meet on Thursday (9th. June) to decide on the timetable and form of industrial action.

PNA General Secretary Designate, Peter Hughes, said the level of support from psychiatric nurses for industrial action reflected the utter frustration at the growing understaffing in the mental health services at both acute and community levels, and the inability of the HSE to bring forward a realistic plan to address the crisis in the short and long term.

‘Nurses are not prepared to stand by and watch the demand for acute and community mental health services growing while knowing that this  demand cannot be met with the current levels of understaffing with up to 600 nursing vacancies currently and a further 400 to arise from forecasted retirement .  This situation is simply unsustainable , and staff have been left struggling to maintain  acute and community services with  no prospect of investing in the development of urgently needed  new services.'

‘The PNA met with Health Minister Simon Harris last week and  set out clear proposals to address  both the immediate staffing shortages throughout the services  and also plan for the growing demand for newly qualified psychiatric nurses which is looming over the coming years.  We need to see a comprehensive plan from the HSE that will include measures to retain existing staff   in our services and significantly grow the number of student training places for psychiatric nursing.'

Media Contact : Derek Cunningham 086 -2430535