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The Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) said today (Tuesday) that it has lifted its national industrial action following agreement at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) on a number of issues at the centre of the dispute which commenced six weeks ago.

PNA General Secretary Designate , Peter Hughes welcomed today's agreement which he said was vitally important to deliver mental health services into the future.

‘This dispute has been a difficult process,  but PNA  members have  been determined that a number of outstanding issues on the recruitment and retention of psychiatric nurses had to be addressed by the HSE and Department of Health  in order to ensure the provision of a quality mental health service.  Today's agreement is hugely important for the future safeguarding of mental health services with an Implementation Group that will ensure delivery of all parts of the Agreement

The package of proposals now agreed with the WRC are:

  1. An additional 60 Psychiatric Nurse training places will be provided this year and 70 more additional places in 2017 bringing the total to 420.

  2. 40 Post Graduate places will be offered to nurses from other disciplines to train as psychiatric nurses commencing in January 2017.

  3. A scoping exercise is currently being completed into the feasibility of training other health science graduates as Psychiatric Nurses.

  4. New measures aimed at dealing with the current shortages pending the training of sufficient numbers of nurses include :
    Retired staff will be offered employment at a pay rate equal to the maximum point of the Staff Nurse Scale (LSI).
    Current employees will be encouraged to provide additional hours at a pay rate based on their personal hourly rate.

  5. All temporary nurses and all 2016 graduates will be offered Permanent Posts.

  6. A Working Group will be set up immediately to report before the end of the year on the implementation of 24/7 Home Based Crisis Services Pilot Projects in 2017.

  7. The HSE will provide an additional 3 Advanced Nurse Practitioner Posts in each CHO Area and one in the Forensic Services, i.e. an additional 28 ANPs on top of those currently in place.

  8. The bureaucratic process of recruiting nurses which has taken as long as 4 months before a request for a post to be filled is passed to National Recruitment Services is guaranteed not to exceed 28 days.

  9. The management of the Serious Physical Assault Scheme has been reviewed to ensure the assaulted nurse's full pay is maintained and his/her Sick Pay entitlements protected.

  10. Nurses working part-time hours will be able to increase their working hours without obstacles or objection.  

  11. Agreement on the Payment of a Community Allowance in response to productivity measures.

  12. An implementation group agreed between the parties will oversee implementation of this agreement. This group will meet fortnightly in the first instance.

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