Deputy Broughan has recently been contacted by a number of constituents distressed at the staff shortages in St. Joseph’s Intellectual Disability Service at St. Ita’s Hospital, Portrane, Co. Dublin. Deputy Broughan has been making representations to support these constituents and yesterday received a reply from the HSE following a Parliamentary Question he asked to the Minister for Health. The reply confirmed the “current high levels of nursing staff shortages at St Joseph’s Intellectual Disability Services” and went on to say that a significant recruitment drive is being undertaken to try and attract nursing staff to this facility. Worryingly, the reply states that despite these efforts “the response rate to date in filling these posts has been very low”.
The reply from the Head of Service Mental Health in the HSE stated that “the services have recently run information sessions as a recruitment initiative in Dublin Institute of Technology and Dundalk Institute of Technology. A number of actions have been taken including redeployment of nursing and health care assistant staff to front line services, maximising the use of all nursing bank staff where possible and the usage of nursing agency on three month rolling contracts. All vacant posts have been funded and approved for filling and are currently with the HSE National Recruitment Service who is running recruitment campaigns to fill all posts”. An additional Social Worker has been successfully recruited, along with a Senior Occupational Therapist. The reply states that a “new staff nurse has also taken up her post since the beginning of April 2017”.
The reply goes on to explain that services at St. Joseph’s are also in a transition phase saying that this Service “has engaged in a Transition Project, which will see the transfer of patients from two units on St Ita’s Campus, which have been deemed unsuitable for modern healthcare delivery as outlined in the Mental Health Commission inspections of 2015 and 2016. The Project is also guided by the need to plan for the current and future elderly care needs of service users and review existing transition requests”. This Transition Project is ongoing, being led by a Project Manager and Steering Committee made up of senior management and a “multi-disciplinary Operational Team to support implementation”. The reply states that “a wide ranging communication plan is being implemented and consultation with key stakeholders i.e. service users, carers/families, staff, trade unions, political representatives, and advocacy support groups. This project is scheduled to take 6-9 months and the consolidation of the staffing resource in St Joseph’s IDS will result in alleviating staff shortages”.
Deputy Broughan says “While I welcome news that St. Joseph’s Intellectual Disability Service is undertaking a Transition Project as recommended in the Mental Health Commission inspections in the years 2015 and 2016, it remains a serious concern that there are significant staffing shortages today. Families, service users and carers are being directly and negatively impacted by these shortages for some time now. I note that a recruitment initiative is underway but the Minister for Health and the HSE management must ask the questions why the response rate to work in such important services remains low. What can be done to support staff in these important services and to attract good staff for the future also?”