Older people and persons with intellectual disabilities will be able to receive some forms of care in the community which up to now would have involved attending hospital emergency departments, under a new deal between nurses and the Government.
Nurses working in areas providing care for the elderly and the intellectually disabled will take on four additional tasks and in return will see the reintroduction of premium payments which were withdrawn as part of cutbacks over recent years. They will be reintroduced in July and backdated for 10 months.
The premium “twilight”payment of time and one sixth for working between 6pm and 8pm was reintroduced for nurses working in acute hospitals last year in return for taking on some tasks traditionally carried out by doctors.
The director of industrial relations at the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, Phil Ní Sheaghdha, told the union’s annual conference in Wexford that the twilight payments will now also be restored for nurses in the social care sector on foot of a report issued by an arbitrator in recent days.
Under the agreement, nurses will take on four tasks from a menu of duties, including intravenous (IV) cannulation, phlebotomy, intravenous (IV) antibiotics and cathererisation.
Noreen Watts, senior staff nurse at Áras Rónáin community nursing unit on the Aran Islands, said the initiative would be very beneficial for patients .
“The biggest thing is that we would be keeping our frail elderly people out of emergency departments.We will now be able to do IV cannulation and IV fluids. So that straightaway does away with the trauma and distress of a medical evacuation, in our case from the Aran Islands which would involve having the use of the lifeboat or an Aer Corps helicopter. That would also cut down on costs and on the distress to residents and their families.”
Áine Ní Ghearailt from Dingle said the new move would mean patients would not have to be brought by ambulance nearly 50km to hospital in Tralee for some procedures.