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725 vacant posts in mental health services

The Psychiatric Nurses Association has said it has identified 725 vacant posts in the mental health services.

At its annual delegate conference in Meath, PNA General Secretary Peter Hughes said several services are carrying vacancies of between 20-30%.

He said this has not only resulted in the curtailment of services but the inability to open new units and the closure of services.

The conference also heard that there are only 42 operational Child & Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) beds in the country, when there should be 100 which is not change from las year.

Mr Hughes said that 58 CAMHS beds are effectively closed and there are no nursing staff to open the 60 vacant beds in the New National Forensic Mental Health Service.

Delegates have called for an end to the recruitment embargo which they say is having a major impact on the delivery of both child and adult mental health services.

The HSE said there has been an increase in the number of psychiatric nurses employed in the last three months, despite the recruitment pause necessary due to the over recruitment in 2023 in all grades.

It said that derogations from the pause can be sought from the HSE’s Chief Executive and since December 2022 the mental health nursing workforce has increased by 168.

It added that there are 72 CAMHS in-patient beds registered with the Mental Health Commission, 51 of which are currently operational.

Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People Mary Butler told the conference that the recruitment pause will not last forever and that graduate nurses are exempt from it.

She said that the CAMHS in-patient beds capacity was 72 nationally due to a range of issues, including the necessary temporary upgrading of facilities.

Minister Butler told delegate that CAMHS waiting lists fell by 500 last year.

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