According to information received by Deputy Fiona O’Loughlin, there are currently 62 vacancies in the Kildare /West Wicklow area for mental health nurses.
Deputy O’Loughlin said, “This is a very worrying shortfall in psychiatric nurses in the Kildare region. These nurses are a key part of our mental health services and without them, the system cannot function effectively. The Psychiatric Nurses Association identified up to 700 nursing vacancies in mental health services across the country in 2018 which placed a massive strain on the system.”
According to their unions, the pay scales for psychiatric nurses are part of the problem along with recruitment and retention. The staffing shortfall is being made up primarily through overtime which costs the HSE €300,000 per week in. Existing staff are over worked and experiencing high levels of work place stress.
Deputy O’Loughlin also said, “A number of adolescent psychiatric beds were not open in 2018 due to staff shortages. This is especially worrying as early intervention in child and adolescent mental health is absolutely vital in avoiding significant mental health problems in the future. Users of our mental health services need to know that they will be taken care of when they need it most. “
"The vision for change programme set targets 10 years ago for our mental health service delivery and progress has been very slow in implementing what was meant to be a total reform of our mental health services. The Government must do more to resolve the staffing problems in the HSE to ensure the vulnerable members of our community receive the treatment they deserve,” concluded Deputy O’Loughlin.
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