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 mental health services at breaking point due to lack of staff and burnout

SIPTU representatives have highlighted the threat to the operation of mental health services through lack of staff and worker burnout at a Policy Forum for Ireland online seminar, on the ‘Next steps for mental health services in Ireland’ which took place today (Tuesday, 20th June).

Addressing the seminar, SIPTU Sector Organiser, John McCamley, said: “SIPTU has been to the fore in highlighting issues faced by our members in mental health services. They face heavy workloads and risk burnout due to a lack of staff.

“Problems with staffing are particularly acute in the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). SIPTU representatives have requested a meeting with the Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People, Mary Butler, to highlight the concerns of our members who work in CAMHS.

“We note that the Minister has announced that she has commenced a series of high-level roundtable discussions with key stakeholders in CAMHS and have been informed that SIPTU representatives will be asked to participate. It is our view that an engagement that focuses on the experiences of workers in this sector should happen without delay. It is imperative that we deal with the issues relating to staffing if we are to stem the flow of workers leaving these services.”

He added: “We welcomed the opportunity to address the seminar on behalf of our members as often the voice of workers is missing when the future of essential public services is discussed.”

SIPTU raises serious concerns regarding staffing in CAMHS unit in Blackrock in Cork

SIPTU representatives have written to the management of the Eist Linn Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) inpatient unit regarding serious staffing issues at its facility in Bessborough, Blackrock, county Cork.

SIPTU Organiser, Natasha Linehan Treacy, said: “In the letter to management sent on Friday, 13th January, we note that four nursing staff have notified management of their intent to leave the service. When existing vacancies within the service are taken into consideration, that means there will be 11 whole time equivalent nursing vacancies within the Eist Linn inpatient unit.

“The current level of nursing vacancies within the Eist Linn inpatient unit is intolerable and is leading to heavy dependence on agency staff and the use of overtime within the unit. We have written to management to seek an urgent meeting on this issue. A comprehensive plan on how it is intended that management will address the level of nursing vacancies in the immediate term is essential.”

She added: “It is unacceptable for all our members in the unit that they are attempting to deliver a service with only 58% of nursing posts filled. This situation also speaks to broader staffing issues across the CAMHS service.”

SIPTU demands removal of barriers to recruitment and retention of mental health nurses

SIPTU has called for the ending of a lower paid new entrants’ grade and the return of allowances for mental health nurses in order to end a crisis in staff recruitment and retention in the service.

SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell, said: “SIPTU representatives are attending a conciliation conference with HSE management at the Workplace Relations Commission, today (Tuesday, 28th June), to discuss issues relating to mental health nursing. The top priority for our members is the ending of the crisis in staff recruitment and retention in the service.

“Key to solving this crisis is the ending of the lower paid new entrants’ grade and the return of the community allowance for mental health nurses. The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe, must agree to these necessary changes as well as work with SIPTU and the HSE to find an immediate interim solution to the growing crisis in our mental health services.”

Bell added: “The policy approved by government departments and pursued by the HSE during 2015 to encourage graduate nurses and mid-wives to return to Ireland, did not work. The statistics show the number who did return to the service due to this scheme was only in the single figures. The Department for Public Expenditure and Reform must bear this fact in mind when drafting any fresh proposals concerning this crisis.”

SIPTU Sector Organiser, Kevin Figgis, said: “Unless something radical is done immediately our mental health services are facing a massive crisis due to a lack of nursing staff. Two tier pay systems, the removal of allowances and the lack of resources available for Continuing Professional Development are clearly exacerbating the crisis in recruiting and retaining nursing staff.

“There are currently in excess of 600 vacancies within mental health nursing services and this is set to increase by another 400 due to pending retirements. This situation will shortly make the provision of mental health services unsustainable. While the HSE National Recruitment Service has a role to play in alleviating this crisis our members believe that local recruitment schemes are also necessary.