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Psychiatric nurses begin overtime ban as INMO ends first 24-hour strike this morning

The strike action is over recruitment and retention of nurses within the sector

Nurses from the INMO trade union arrive on the picket line on the first day of a planned series strikes,
Nurses from the INMO trade union arrive on the picket line on the first day of a planned series strikes,
Image: Leah Farrell

SOME 6,000 MEMBERS of the Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) will today begin an overtime ban, just as a 24-hour strike action by nurses and midwives across the country ends this morning at 8am. 

Members of the PNA will refuse to work overtime hours today, tomorrow, and the 5, 6 and 7 of February in response to what they contend is the Government’s failure to address the recruitment and retention crisis in nursing.

On the 12, 13 and 14 February, the PNA will begin full strike action. 

“Overtime is voluntary, our nurses have propped up the service for a number of years by working overtime”, said PNA General Secretary, Peter Hughes on Morning Ireland  today. 

The impact today will be on community services, which will likely be restricted, said Hughes.

“We really won’t know the impact until later on this morning”, said Hughes, adding: 

The problem with recruitment and retention is not just going to go away, and the government really need to engage positively, with realistic proposals. The situation in mental health services is that the vacancy rates have increased by 40% over the past year. That situation is going to deteriorate month on month. (…) The nursing issue can be dealt with within the Public Services Pay agreement. 

The Government has previously said that the increase is unaffordable, and breaches the agreement. 

Hughes said: 

There is a clause in relation to recruitment and retention. Despite the Pay Commission saying there is no issue with pay, recruitment and retention, we can show that there is. We are not retaining the nurses that we have, and we can’t recruit. 

The PNA wants a “meaningful proposal”, Hughes said, adding that they have not received one from the Government, after three days with the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) last week. 

The 40,000 strong strike action by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), ending this morning, has been over pay and staff shortages. Some 25,000 patients have had appointments cancelled as a result. 

Over 95% of INMO members voted for the strike action. 

Earlier this month, the ambulance services branch of the PNA – the National Ambulance Service Representation Association (NASRA) — held its own strike on the 22 January. 

The HSE will be in discussions with the INMO for a contingency plan for the body’s next 24-hour strike, as it begins cancelling procedures for next Tuesday. 

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