Nurses’ association warns of crisis in West Dublin mental health services
Closure of unit points to problems of nursing shortages

Nurses’ association warns of crisis in West Dublin mental health services

THE Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) has warned of a growing crisis in the provision of mental health services in West Dublin after the closure of a 16-bed sub-acute unit in the St James’s Hospital Psychiatric Unit this week.

The move is due to nursing shortages leaving just 22 acute admission beds for the entire catchment area.

It comes just three months after the closure of 11 beds in Linn Dara Child and Adolescent Mental Health unit, in Cherry Orchard, which plays a vitally important role in the provision of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).

These beds were to have re-opened in September, but the PNA now understands that a further seven nurses are due to leave Linn Dara in the coming months which will potentially jeopardise the bed reopening.

The PNA said there are also at least 25 vacant posts in the Acute Mental Health Unit in Tallaght Hospital equating to an over 40 per cent vacancy rate.

PNA General Secretary, Peter Hughes said it is “totally unacceptable” that nursing vacancies have been allowed to reduce to such an extent that beds are being closed and vital services are being denied to the communities involved.

“The loss of beds in St James and Linn Dara will have a serious detrimental impact on the delivery of services throughout CH07 area and will put further pressure on remaining services and staff. We are witnessing an exodus of nurses and graduates from our mental health services to pursue opportunities abroad and we need an urgent and imaginative response to adequately staff our services.”

“The situations in St James, Tallaght and Linn Dara are symptoms of the wider crisis in the recruitment and retention of psychiatric nurses, which is the direct result of failed HSE workforce planning. The HSE must now come forward to target solutions and incentives to encourage the recruitment and retention of nurses to adequately staff mental health services, including CAMHS services, nationally.”

Sinn Féin spokesperson for Mental Health, Mark Ward TD, said: “There is a serious problem in work-force planning in the HSE . The recruitment and retention problems of health care staff needs to be addressed, particularly in Dublin.

“Information I received from the HSE about exit interviews conducted in CHO 7 for health care workers leaving their posts showed the reasons included the cost of property in this CHO area is expensive and staff are generally not in a position to get on the property ladder, particularly those at the start of their career. The availability and cost of renting property is also another significant factor.”

Further training and long commutes to work were cited as other factors.

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