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To describe self-reported barriers to clinical leadership development among nurses and midwives in Ireland.Effective clinical leadership is essential for optimising care and improving patient outcomes. Clinical leadership development is concerned with intrapersonal and interpersonal capabilities and is context bound. Barriers to clinical leadership development among nurses and midwives are associated with interdisciplinary and organisational factors, such as lack of influence in interdisciplinary care planning and policy.A national postal survey of nurses and midwives was administered to a simple random sample of 3000 nurses and midwives in Ireland.The method of data collection was the Clinical Leadership Analysis of Need Questionnaire (CLAN-Q) Barriers Scale (CLAN-QBS©), a self-administered, self-report questionnaire developed to measure the barriers to clinical leadership development.Mean scores for the CLAN-Q barriers subscales showed that barriers to clinical leadership development were perceived as lower in the dimension ‘quality care factors’, when compared with the dimensions ‘interdisciplinary relationships, recognition and influence’. Staff and other promotional grades differed significantly in self-perceived barriers related to interdisciplinary working, influence and recognition of the disciplinary contribution.Differential experiences of barriers among higher and lower grades suggest that grade level may influence ability to negotiate work-related and organisational barriers to clinical leadership development.Overcoming the barriers to clinical leadership development requires attention to interdisciplinary relationships in the practicum and to the actual and perceived degree of relative influence that nurses and midwives have at wider departmental and organisational levels.