SIPTU says it’ll ballot members for strike action if two dedicated units for mental health services aren’t opened and being used for their intended purpose by October 31st.
The union says the HSE needs to open Deer Lodge, a new 40 bed residential unit in Killarney by that date.
A four bedded intensive care unit in University Hospital Kerry is already open but is being used for different purposes.
SIPTU says it was told by the HSE that the opening of the Deer Lodge and intensive care facilities were contingent on the closure of services at the HSE centre in Ballydribbeen, Killarney.
The closure of Ballydribbeen and the O’Connor unit on the grounds of the closed St Finan’s Hospital would free up staff to work at the two new facilities in Deer Lodge and in the mental health ICU at University Hospital Kerry. SIPTU’s branch organiser, Donie Doody, says the union accommodated management in every way possible including extensions to the closure date at Ballydribbeen. Mr Doody’s calling on the HSE to expedite the closure of Ballydribbeen and the O’Connor unit and to transfer clients to more appropriate settings. He says members aren’t prepared to tolerate any more delays and are giving the HSE until October 31st to implement their agreement, namely the opening of Deer Lodge and the ICU. Mr Doody says failure to do so will result in members having to ballot for industrial action. The HSE says that Kerry Mental Health Services have started the process of registering Deer Lodge as an approved facility with the Mental Health Commission. It says a commissioning group, set up to help progress the opening of Deer Lodge, is working tirelessly on the matter.