Hospitals Feel Pain as Nurses Dispute Grows; Mental Health Care Breaking Down

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PSYCHIATRIC services were facing meltdown last night as the bitter dispute between nurses and management escalated.

One mental health unit was shut yesterday and today hospitals face closure as nurses refuse to provide cover for an overtime ban that started last week.

And an all-out strike looms on Monday if the stand-off between management and unions continues.

That will result in the closure of mental health wards throughout the country, including at the Central Mental Hospital in Dublin.

The dispute is over HSE plans for a new compensation scheme for psychiatric nurses injured at work.

Unions claim the new scheme is an "insult" to nurses who put their lives and health at risk in the line of duty.

They complain the level of compensation is too low and just 13 types of injury are covered by the scheme.

Des Kavanagh of the Psychiatric Nurses Organisation said any other injuries suffered, including losing one eye or serious injury to internal organs, would not be covered.

He also pointed out the family of a nurse killed at work would get EUR25,000.

Under the new scheme EUR100,000 would be paid to a nurse left paraplegic or quadraplegic by an assault at work.

The loss of two limbs or both eyes would warrant the same compensation. …