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"Win-win for everyone" - Irish nurses set to take key tasks out of doctors' hands

Four key tasks are to be carried out in future by nurses rather than junior doctors.

shutterstock_231634663 Source: Shutterstock/Spotmatik Ltd

A NEW AGREEMENT between the health service and medical unions will see the responsibility for key hospital tasks transferred from junior doctors to nurses.

The move has been announced this evening by health minister Leo Varadkar and has been broadly accepted by the various parties involved.

The four tasks that will now fall to nurses are:

  • Taking blood
  • Administering intravenous drugs
  • Administering first-dose antibiotics
  • The discharge of patients

“Since I was a medical student, people have been talking about nurses taking over these tasks from junior doctors,” Varadkar said.

I am really delighted to have got it over the line as health minister.
This is a win-win for everyone.

1/2/2016. Nurses Staffing Issues Source: Sasko Lazarov/

Under the agreement nurses will benefit financially from the additional workload, while junior doctors will see their infamously long working hours reduced. Patients meanwhile are expected to see fewer delays when it comes to intravenous procedures such as the taking of bloods.

While training is expected to commence immediately, the changes will come into effect mainly in acute hospitals, and also in some regionals.

The transfer of these tasks was provided for under the Haddington Road agreement.


The agreement will also see the restoration of ‘un-social hour payments’ for nurses and midwives, or time plus one sixth for work performed between 6pm and 8pm, which was removed initially under Haddington Road.

“This agreement will provide an enhanced service to patients and allow for some improvement in treatment times, ultimately leading to greater efficiency and shorter treatment times for patients,” said Phil Ní Sheaghdha, director of industrial relations with the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO).

Nurses and midwives have been expanding their practice in these areas of care in many countries and this has resulted in benefits to patient outcomes.
Irish nurses and midwives are perfectly placed to deliver this significant reform to the Irish health service which can only be to the benefit of the patients to whom they provide care.

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