6,000 psychiatric nurses refuse to work overtime in pay and staffing dispute

6,000 psychiatric nurses refuse to work overtime in pay and staffing dispute
Picture: RollingNews

Update 10.15am: 6,000 members of the Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) will refuse to work overtime today and tomorrow in their dispute over pay and staffing.

The union says its members have been left with no option but to engage in industrial action.

It comes as the first in a series of 24-hour strikes by members of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation ended this morning but a further five stoppages will begin next Tuesday.

The general secretary of the PNA, Peter Hughes, has acknowledged that it is not clear what impact today’s ban on overtime will have, but he warned that many community services may be affected and senior nurse management may have to work to provide cover.

The problem with recruitment and retention or nurses will not go away, he told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

This is compounded by the “huge reliance” on overtime in the mental health services.

While the Public Service Pay Commission has said it does not believe that pay has anything to do with the retention of staff, Mr Hughes disputed this, adding that vacancy rates have increased by 40% over the past year.

He pointed out that the Bring Them Home campaign launched last year resulted in only six psychiatric nurses returning from the UK.

He said that any proposal would be brought to members for consideration, but as yet they have not received any despite spending three days at the Workplace Relations Commission last week without any negotiations taking place.

Mr Hughes said that overtime is voluntary and therefore cannot be construed as industrial action. The issue can be resolved and there should be no penalty on staff who take part in the ban.

No sign of breakthrough as first day of nurses' strike comes to an end

Update 6.45am: Hospitals are warning of potential disruption to services once they get back up and running later.

Industrial action by nurses ends at 8am but there is no sign of any breakthrough in the dispute between their unions and the Government.

Nurses striking at Beaumont Hospital, Dublin yesterday
Nurses striking at Beaumont Hospital, Dublin yesterday

Yesterday, 37,000 nurses walked off the job and onto the picket line.

That action ended at 8am.

While contingency arrangements were put in place, 25,000 patients had their appointments cancelled.

The HSE says there could be a surge in patients in emergency departments today due to people who may have stayed away yesterday.

It says having full staff working will help with the surge.

But it is far from the end of the industrial action as the nurses dispute with the government over pay and staffing is no closer to being resolved.

The INMO is planning a further five 24-hour stoppages, beginning next Tuesday.

Liam Woods, HSE Director of operations, says preparing for that begins today: "We will be getting into discussion with the INMO in terms of the potential action next Tuesday following that we will be advising hospitals in terms of elective work for next week.

Separately, 6,000 psychiatric nurses will refuse to work overtime today and tomorrow as they too are on a collision course with the government.

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