The Psychiatric Nurses’ Association said it is to meet with the HSE to discuss safety issues at the psychiatric unit at Kerry General Hospital in Tralee.
Following alleged assaults on seven staff members in the unit last month, the Health and Safety Authority carried out an inspection at the unit at the PNA’s request.
The union has claimed understaffing is at the root of problems in the unit. The Health and Safety Authority has submitted a report to the HSE on working conditions in the unit, according to the PNA.
Cormac Williams, of the association yesterday said: “The HSE have said they will arrange a meeting with staff locally on the unit to discuss the recommendations of the report and how a safer working environment can be achieved going forward.”
While welcoming this development, he said nursing staff recruitment must form part of any review of health and safety issues at the unit.
“Reduced staffing leads to heightened risk and an increase in adverse incidents such as the ones which have been experienced at the unit in recent months,” he stated.
Mr Williams also said extra nurse recruitment would reduce the ever-increasing overtime costs within the Kerry mental health service.
Several staff shortages were resulting from continuing retirements and forcing the HSE to close, or introduce cuts, at existing community mental health services in the county, he claimed.
He said the situation at the Tralee psychiatric unit had become particularly chronic because of ongoing staff shortages. The situation had become dangerous for staff and patients and conditions were not conducive to patient recovery he stated.
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