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The nurse's legal duty to safely delegate tasks and to follow up the outcome

07 April 2022
6 min read
Volume 31 · Issue 7

Abstract

Richard Griffith, Senior Lecturer in Health Law at Swansea University, considers a registered nurse's legal and professional duties when delegating tasks to others

The NHS workforce continues to be understaffed and under-resourced with one in 10 nursing posts vacant (Campbell, 2022). Registered nurses delegate tasks to junior colleagues, support workers, students and relatives to help manage their workload and ensure that patients receive timely care. Safe delegation is encouraged by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) as a way of managing workload, but the NMC (2018)Code reminds nurses that the delegation must be safe and that nurses are accountable for their delegation decisions.

Health Education and Improvement Wales (HEIW) (2019:10) defines delegation as:

‘… the process by which you (the delegator) allocate clinical or non-clinical care and support to a competent person (the delegatee). The delegator will remain responsible for the overall management of the individual, and accountable for their decision to delegate.’

To support that definition, HEIW (2019) proposes a number of principles for safe delegation, including:

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