SIPTU seeks immediate engagement with HSE regarding recommendations in the CAMHS report

SIPTU representatives have today (Friday 28th July) sought immediate engagement with the Health Service Executive (HSE) over the implementation of the Independent Review of the Provision of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) in the State by the Inspector of Mental Health Services.

SIPTU, as one of the largest union representing staff working in mental health services, including psychiatric nurses, healthcare assistants, and support grades, welcomes the report’s recommendations. However, representatives expressed disappointment over the lack of formal engagement with members throughout the stakeholder process.

SIPTU Sector Organiser, John McCamley, said: “Our members were not surprised by the report’s contents given they face each day the daunting task of providing care to vulnerable clients in a system plagued by deficits. We call on the HSE to begin a process of engagement with the relevant stakeholders to resolve these issues as a matter of urgency.”

“The dedication of all CAMHS staff must be recognised. They relentlessly strive to deliver vital services under challenging circumstances, and they would be the first to advocate for a world-class mental health service for young people in this country. They are an invaluable asset to the State, and we must bear this in mind as we confront the outcomes of this report.”

He added: “The report noted a number of ways staffing issues within CAMHS are having a detrimental effect on the delivery of the service. Crucially, the report highlighted the absence of a benchmark for safe staffing levels within child and adolescent mental health services. This must be addressed. The report also acknowledged the prevalence of low staff morale and burnout among healthcare workers in CAMHS; and raised serious concerns that some staff members are compelled to work beyond their contracted hours without additional compensation, all in a bid to provide essential therapeutic interventions, and stop some services from collapsing. This is not right, this is not fair, and ultimately this is not sustainable for staff or their clients.”

SIPTU says further solutions needed to address staffing issues in home care sector

SIPTU representatives have called on the Government to engage in meaningful dialogue to seek comprehensive solutions to the recruitment and retention crisis in the home support sector.

In response to the announcement by health minister, Stephen Donnelly, that State-funded home support providers will receive an increase in funding in order to pay workers the living wage, SIPTU Sector Organiser, Pat Flannery, said that it will not fully address issues in the sector.

SIPTU Sector Organiser, Pat Flannery said; “While we acknowledge the Government’s efforts to address some of the challenges in the sector, the announced pay increase falls short of what is needed to effectively tackle the current recruitment and retention issues faced by home support services.

“The current Living Wage in Ireland is €13.10 per hour. In the public service, a healthcare support assistant can start on more than €16 per hour. This will rise to more than €20 per hour for those who reach the top of their salary scale. In addition, public service healthcare support assistants enjoy union-negotiated benefits such as access to a pension scheme, paid sick leave, sufficient contracted hours and premium payments for unsociable hours. These are not often a feature in contracts of employment in the voluntary and private sectors.

“It is crucial to understand that the proposals do not go far enough in providing a sustainable solution for the voluntary home support sector. Progress in this area is far too slow to date and the Government needs to stop taking a piecemeal approach to this issue.
“Our members want the Government to engage in meaningful dialogue with their trade union to explore more comprehensive solutions to the recruitment and retention crisis in the home support sector.”

Unions call on Government to immediately intervene on Section 39 pay dispute

SIPTU, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) and Fórsa representatives, have today (Wednesday 19th July) expressed their deep and intense frustration with the Government over its failure to resolve a long standing pay dispute involving thousands of Section 39, Section 10 and Section 56 workers.

The call comes following a last minute cancellation of a Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) by the government employers hearing for the fourth time.

SIPTU Health Divisional Organiser, Kevin Figgis, said: “Our members are beyond frustrated at this point. They want back what was taken from them: the 10% pay gap to be closed and the pay link with the public service workers restored in full. The strategy of dodge, delay, and deny won’t wash with our members and we are demanding that this matter be resolved once and for all. Our industrial and strike action has only been suspended, and if the Government does not intervene to settle this dispute, we will not be found wanting. We have the intolerable situation where members are being paid 2008 rates for work they do in 2023. This is completely unacceptable.”

SIPTU Public Administration and Community Divisional Organiser, Karan O’Loughlin, said “The wage cuts unilaterally imposed after the economic crash over a decade ago have been reversed all over the economy, but these workers are being left behind. This puts these essential services at risk and our members extremely frustrated. The reality is that we have a recruitment and retention crisis across the entire community health and voluntary sectors, so for government ministers to stand idly by while their department officials attempt to run down the clock and leave these workers high and dry time after time is completely intolerable. We won’t be standing for it and will be reactivating our strike notice if this disrespectful behaviour continues.”

Fórsa Health National Secretary, Ashley Connolly, said: “This latest delay is a very frustrating development, and adds a further strain on our members in this sector, who have had their patience exhausted by endless delays. The delay also puts additional pressure on employers in the sector, who are managing a deepening crisis on recruitment and retention, while service users continue to endure lengthening waiting lists due to staff shortages. We need decisive Government action to bring an end to the delays and uncertainty. Unions stand ready to negotiate in good faith. Equally we stand ready to engage with engage in industrial action. We will return to the WRC on 31st July, and our members will expect progress.”

INMO Director of Industrial Relations, Albert Murphy, said: “We are disappointed with yet another deferment from the employer’s side. We will attend the WRC on the 31st July with a firm expectation there will be a credible proposal from management to the unions involved in this long-running dispute. The workers who are at the centre of this dispute are not immune from the cost-of-living crisis. Their salaries have not meaningfully increased in fifteen years. The Government must take its role as a substantial financial backer to Section 39 organisations seriously and ensure that workers in these organisations have their salaries linked to the public service.”