Nurses, patients transfer to Cork unit

An eight-month delay in opening a €15m psychiatric unit at Cork University Hospital (CUH) is due to end today with the transfer of nurses and patients to the 50-bed facility.

Nurses, patients transfer to Cork unit

Last-minute clarification around staffing and rosters was still being sought yesterday by Siptu and the Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) in an effort to ensure commitments had been met before the move went ahead on the HSE target date of August 5.

The standalone facility will replace the outdated GF unit in the main hospital. It should have opened last January but staff refused to move because of concerns over proposed staffing levels and HSE plans to delay the opening of a six-bed high- observation ward within the unit.

The row intensified after one nurse who aired his concerns in the Irish Examiner, Des McSweeney, was subsequently put off duty with pay.

An initial set of proposals designed to end the row were overwhelmingly rejected by the PNA and Siptu, despite the fact that three in five nurses were offered an incentive to endorse them.

More negotiations followed and fresh proposals put to a vote in the last number of weeks were accepted.

While nurses remain concerned about the failure of the HSE to commit to a date for the opening of the high-observation ward, they are likely to transfer today.

In a statement yesterday, the HSE said that management “can confirm that the staffing identified as part of the agreement with the PNA and Siptu will be in place for the opening of the unit”.

The HSE said it also believed rostering issues had been addressed.

Gretta Crowley, operations manager at Cork and Kerry Mental Health Services, said she wished to “restate management’s commitment to the full implementation of the agreement reached with both unions regarding the opening of the new unit”.

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