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.”