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Dr John Duddy said nurse staffing levels and training issues were also contributing to what the IMO considers a lack of progress on implementing last year’s agreement between unions and Government on the transfer of four tasks from NCHDs to nurses. A core principle of the agreement was that the tasks are undertaken by whoever is most appropriate “at that time and in that location”.
Dr Duddy said the “overwhelming” feedback from NCHDs was that the agreement was not being systemically implemented, despite such tasks being standard nursing practice internationally. “In a lot of places, I think it is still seen as ‘well, that is the doctor’s job so they should do it’,” he said.
“The way the agreement was worded was that it only required hospitals to show that they had a plan in place to train their nurses to do these tasks,” added Dr Duddy.
Mr Eric Young, IMO Assistant Director, Industrial Relations (IR), said a verification process involving unions, the HSE and Department of Health had examined hospital plans to implement the agreement and reviewed progress. A final report is also required. However, feedback from IMO members was “that it is not happening and certainly not at the level where we want it to be”.
NCHDs can report concerns to the IMO representative on the local implementation group at hospital level.
In October, the HSE said the verification process in the Acute Hospitals Division had been completed, and that restoration of a premium payment to nurses would take place from November under the terms of the task transfer agreement, which aimed to generate savings from changes to work practices.
INMO Director of IR Ms Phil Ní Sheaghdha told MI the agreement’s implementation has been verified independently as “having met the criteria that was set out nationally”.
The agreement concerned a “sharing” of tasks. “At the IMO’s insistence, and rightly so, doctors have to remain involved in IV cannulation, etc, because otherwise they become de-skilled.”
Low staffing levels and delayed access to training were causing some issues, said Ms Ní Sheaghdha.