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Nurses at the Acute Psychiatric Unit at University College Hospital, Galway (UCHG) have this morning (Wednesday, April 22nd ) refused to go on duty in protest at concerns for patient care and staff safety at the Unit.

There have been 36 assaults on staff in the Unit since January. Staff have raised the issue of staff shortages repeatedly and in recent days there have not been enough nursing staff to provide one to one special nursing care for a number of patients with highly challenging behaviour. As a result some of these patients requiring ‘Specials' have been cared for by Health Care Assistants (HCAs).

Psychiatric Nurses Association, National Secretary, Noel Giblin said staff have been left with no choice but to take the unprecedented step of refusing to go onto the 45 bed acute unit at 7.30 a.m. this morning because of their concerns for safety.

 ‘Despite the level of assaults since January there has been a constant staff shortage on the Unit. Staff do not feel safe on this Unit. With a high level of ‘Specials' in the Unit, nurses assigned to this ‘one on one' duty must leave other patients with an inadequate number of nurses to care for them. In some cases HCA's have to be used to care for particularly challenging and disturbed patients which is in breach of the HSE's own policy. The situation at the Unit has reached crisis point and cannot be allowed to continue.'

‘The PNA Annual Delegate Conference last week called for an independent investigation into the management of this Unit and we are now demanding that the HSE immediately begin talks on the issues in the Acute Unit and put in place a level of staffing at the Unit that ensures that staff are safe and patient care can be delivered in a safe and professional manner.'

Media Contacts: Derek Cunningham 0862430535/ Noel Giblin 087-2769569