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not backing down

After 36 assaults, staff at Galway psychiatric unit start industrial action

It follows an unscheduled action by staff – who walked off the job last month.

Updated at 5.44pm

TEN STAFF AT the acute psychiatric unit in Galway University Hospital have started industrial action this morning as a result of concerns about staffing levels at the facility.

It follows last month’s unscheduled action by staff who walked off the job before agreeing to go back to work following the intervention of the LRC.

A spokesperson for the Psychiatric Nurses Association said staff had balloted and members in Galway West Mental Health Services voted 90 per cent in favour of industrial action, up to and including strike action.

They’re performing only core duties only this morning, the spokesperson said, and are refusing to answer phones or carry out other tasks.

The action will escalate and could spread to the psychiatric unit in Roscommon County Hospital if staff concerns are not addressed, he warned.

While the union was keen to resolves staff concerns, no talks with the HSE will take place until the threat of sanction against ten staff who took part in last month’s action is lifted, according to the PNA spokesperson.

There have been 36 assaults on staff since January, the spokesperson said.

Fianna Fáil’s mental health spokesperson and local TD Colm Keaveney said an exceptional strain has been put on staff and resources at the hospital.

“This is a disgraceful situation and is indicative of this Government’s flawed policy of closing important health facilities without having any replacement services in place,” he said.

We were promised a world class mental health service. What we have in Galway could not be further from that and urgent action is needed to prevent an escalation of the situation.

In a statement, the HSE said it would “regret if this industrial action proceeds and has asked the LRC to intervene”.

“The HSE is happy to discuss and explore the nurses issues and have already responded positively regarding staffing levels.”

Originally published 8.30am

Read: Psychiatric nurses return to work after unit made safe >

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