Psychiatric nurses (members of the Psychiatric Nurses Association PNA) mounted joint lunchtime protests today (Tuesday 5 th December) at St Luke's Hospital Kilkenny and University Hospital Waterford, to highlight the consistent and ongoing overcrowding and staffing crisis faced by those accessing vital services at these two acute mental health admission units.
Nurses are demanding the provision of new and expanded community services, more rigorous management of beds, long stay beds and an end to understaffing to address the crisis in services in the Kilkenny and Waterford region.
PNA Industrial Relations Officer, Michael Hayes said that despite increased overcrowding and mounting staff shortages in UHW and Kilkenny there have been no realistic proposals from management to address the issues facing mental health services in the south east.
‘PNA has highlighted a number of instances earlier this year when overcrowding led to patients, both children and adults, spending the night on chairs when there was no bed for them. The common response from management when these episodes are highlighted is that changes will occur, but as today's protests show , nurses have seen no changes and patients continue to encounter mental health services that cannot be delivered professionally while things remain as they are.'
‘The levels of understaffing are illustrated by the fact that PNA are currently negotiating with management in Waterford to avert a major staffing crisis over Christmas where the service is being expected to operate with no staff to cover 100 shifts over the holiday period. The acute unit in Kilkenny is currently seven staff short, and lack of long term rehabilitation care and poor bed management is now creating overcrowding in St Luke's for the first time ever.'
Mr Hayes said nurses have been left with no option but to mount today's protests to highlight the intolerable pressures that understaffing and under-resourcing in Kilkenny and Waterford are placing on staff, resulting in an unacceptable environment for patient care.
‘The HSE rightly demands that nurses meet the highest professional standards but our members are struggling to deliver care in hospital settings that are impacted on daily by understaffing, lack of investment in community and support mental health services and poor management which is driving nurses out of the Irish health system to work abroad.'
‘Psychiatric nurses protesting today are sending a clear message to management that they will not tolerate patients, including children, being admitted to chairs because of overcrowding. Our message is clear - nurses are not prepared to continue to struggle to deliver vital services in the care environment where they cannot treat patients in the manner that they expect and deserve to be treated'.
Media contact: Derek Cunningham 086-2430535