Deal to avert nurses' strike done after 19 hours of talks
The threatened strike by nurses - which would have caused widespread disruption to the health service - has been deferred.
The breakthrough came after a marathon 19 hours of negotiations. A package of proposals which will address issues of overcrowding and under-staffing, eventually led to a deal between the management and the Irish Nurses & Midwives Organisation (INMO).
Key to the new deal is a mutually-agreed early-warning system in relation to the risk of serious overcrowding in hospitals.
The talks at the Workplace Relations Commission also include agreement on a number of "confidence-building" measures to be implemented immediately.
However, Health Service Executive (HSE) national director of human resources, Rosarii Mannion, insisted there had been absolutely no changes to the money incentives for the recruitment of nurses.
INMO general secretary Liam Doran said the dispute was not about money, but was about securing patient safety.
If the planned strike had gone ahead it would have affected services at seven hospitals.
The INMO executive council reached an unanimous decision to accept the set of proposals agreed with the HSE.
The proposals aim to assure nurses that measures agreed before Christmas to address overcrowding and under-staffing will be fully implemented in hospitals.
Procedures for early identification of the risk of overcrowding, as well as the operation of crisis protocols known as escalation policies, have been clarified. There will be mandatory weekly high-level meetings at hospital or group level between management and staff.
These will include the chief executive officer, the chief operations officer, the clinical director and director of nursing, as well as nurses representatives.
There has also been clarification on how posts of additional responsibility and promotions, should operate in emergency departments.
Ms Mannion said she hoped the proposals will increase confidence among nursing staff.