Opening the new Deer Lodge facility in Killarney this month could trigger industrial action.
That’s according to the Psychiatric Nurses’ Association which says agreements on nursing staff transferring from the O’Connor Unit and Chluain Fhionnain need to be in place prior to any opening date.
Deer Lodge is a 40-bed unit, intended as a replacement for the current O’Connor Unit and Chluain Fhionnain intellectual disability service.
HSE correspondence has indicated a project team is working towards an opening date of March 27th.
Management from the Community Healthcare Organisation (CHO) are meeting with union representatives and say out of respect for that process, won’t be making any further comment at this time.
The Psychiatric Nurses’ Association says the transfer of nursing staff, currently assigned to the O’Connor Unit or Chluain Fhionnáin, should take precedent over staff hire in the future.
They say any scenario which sees existing nursing staff ‘scattered to the four corners of Kerry’ to fill any vacancies that may exist at that time is totally unacceptable.
The PNA says Deer Lodge should remain closed until agreement on the transfer of existing staff from the O’Connor Unit and Cluainn Fhionnáin is forthcoming.
Any talk of opening Deer Lodge in March, the union says ‘is premature, unrealistic and unhelpful’ and would only trigger an immediate industrial dispute.
The HSE says the opening of Deer Lodge is a key project for the Community Healthcare Organisation for 2017, and that it’s looking forward to moving ahead with that opening.