Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Mental Health Colm Keaveney has called on Minister Kathleen Lynch to explain why University Hospital Galway is the only major acute admission centre in the country with no guarantee on staff numbers. His comments come as psychiatric nurses at the hospital begin industrial action over their concerns about staffing levels at the unit.
Deputy Keaveney commented, “Nurses at UHG have been expressing concerns about staffing levels at the hospital for some time but unfortunately those concerns have fallen on deaf ears within the HSE. Already this year there have been 36 assaults on staff and the situation has deteriorated completely. Despite this, HSE management have failed to guarantee staff numbers on the roster. This is an issue of patient and staff safety but the HSE and the Minister have chosen to turn a blind eye to it.
“Minister Lynch was quick to facilitate the closure of St. Brigid’s Hospital in Ballinasloe yet failed to put the necessary measures in place at UHG to accommodate the number of patients that would need treatment at the unit. This has put an exceptional strain on the staff and resources at UHG, to the point where the facility is now unsafe for staff and patients. 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.
“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. I am calling on the HSE to lift the threat of sanctions against those who took action as a first step in the process of positive engagement between nurses and management.
“The Labour Relations Commission should be convened at the earliest possible opportunity to breach the gulf between the two sides. Patient and staff safety is already being put at risk and a resolution must be found before the situation becomes untenable”.