Psychiatric nurses in phones protest

Psychiatric nurses are not answering phones to distressed patients as part of industrial action over the understaffing of mental health services.

Patients trying to contact their assigned community mental health nurses via mobile numbers are receiving voicemails stating the nurse is “advised not to answer” because of an industrial relations’ dispute and, in case of emergency, to ring the local day hospital.

At larger psychiatric units, only administrative staff are answering phones. Psychiatric nurses are refusing.

Patients in the South West have contacted the Irish Examiner to say “service users are being punished” and claimed the industrial action “is unduly unfair on patients in crisis who generally have strong relationships with community mental health nurses”.

The Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) confirmed industrial action includes not answering some phones.

The PNA was due to begin phase three of its action today but it was deferred for 24 hours to allow for further talks at the Workplace Relations Commission, according to the PNA.

“We have made progress on some issues while there are other issues that are proving more difficult such as incremental pay for nurses recruited between 2011 and 2015,” said PNA spokesman Derek Cunningham.

The PNA is also seeking a “significant” increase in psychiatric nurse training places but the HSE has not yet agreed to the increases.

Tentative contact was made between health service employers and the union at the WRC last Friday and more formal talks took place this week.

As part of phase three of its action, PNA members were to begin refusing overtime. Under phase two, nurses refused to use IT unless it was direct inputting of patient reports. They also limited the use of their own transport, refused to co-operate with reconfiguration, and only attend clinical meetings.


Even in the drug-filled, debauched annals of the rock and roll memoir, Mark Lanegan's Sing Backwards And Weep stands out.Mark Lanegan: Drugs, Liam Gallagher and me

Donal Dineen was the man who first brought David Gray and many other emerging artists to our ears. He’s had a lower profile in recent years, but has returned with a new podcast, writes Eoghan O’SullivanDonal Dineen: Pushing the buttons on a new podcast

Is there are science to back up some of the folklore we have grown up with?Appliance of Science: If a cow sits down does that mean it will rain?

This time last year Whiddy Island in West Cork was bustling with people who had caught the ferry for the short trip from Bantry to ramble the island’s boreens as part of the Bantry Walking Festival. Not so this year.Islands of Ireland: Whiddy in the same boat

More From The Irish Examiner