Psychiatric nurses have voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action, up to and including strike action, in a protest over the "recruitment and retention crisis" in the nursing sector.

Members of the Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) voted by 95% in favour of the action.

The nurses are protesting "the continued failure of the Government to bring forward realistic proposals" to address the problems with recruiting and retaining nurses, the association said in a statement.

The ballot followed the rejection by the PNA of proposals by the Public Pay Commission Report in September to address the recruitment and retention issue, which the group called "totally inadequate".

The nurses will next present a plan for industrial action to a meeting of the PNA board, which meets on 10 January.

PNA General Secretary Peter Hughes called on the Department of Health and the HSE to engage with the association to resolve the issues and avert the need for industrial action.

A spokeswoman for Minister for Health Simon Harris said it is the minister's belief that industrial action should be avoided and he called on all parties to work intensively to avert industrial aciton.

"The Department of Health is to meet with the Oversight Committee [of the Public Service Stability Agreement] this week for further engagement and the minister believes this is the most appropriate forum," she added.