Suffolk: Nurses ‘drowning in paperwork’

Health minister, Dr Dan Poulter MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich

Health minister, Dr Dan Poulter MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich - Credit: Archant

PATIENTS not paperwork must be the NHS’s top priority a Suffolk MP has claimed after it was revealed that nurses spend 2.5million hours a week on admin.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said their members are “drowning in a sea of paperwork” as a poll carried out on behalf of the union found UK nurses are tied up with non-essential paperwork and clerical task for an average of 17.3% of their working hours.

Health minister and MP for central Suffolk and north Ipswich Dr Dan Poulter said although the coalition Government has significantly cut the amount of red tape in the NHS there is work being done to reduce bureaucracy further.

He added: “NHS staff need to be free to do what we were trained to do - look after patients, so patients not paperwork must be our NHS’s priority.”

The RCN, which released the figures ahead of its annual congress in Liverpool, said that nurses, who work for a combined 14.3 million hours a week, are being prevented from caring for patients.

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More than four in five nurses (81%) said that having to complete non-essential paperwork prevented them from providing care. Almost nine in 10 of the 6,000 nurses surveyed said the amount of non-essential paperwork such as filing, photocopying and ordering supplies had increased in the last two years.

In February, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced he had commissioned the NHS Confederation to work with bodies to see how paperwork could be reduced.

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“These figures prove what a shocking amount of a nurse’s time is being wasted on unnecessary paperwork and bureaucracy,” said Dr Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the RCN.

“Yes, some paperwork is essential and nurses will continue to do this, but patients want their nurses by their bedside, not ticking boxes.

“We are encouraged that the Government has acknowledged this issue, and the ongoing review by the NHS Confederation is a step in the right direction, but urgent action is needed now.”

Labour’s shadow health minister Andrew Gwynne said: “David Cameron is cutting the NHS front line and wasting billions on a chaotic reorganisation, leaving hospitals to operate without enough staff.

“Now form-filling is taking nurses away from their patients for longer and longer.”

She added: “Ministers must stop the job losses and ensure all hospitals have enough staff to provide safe care.”

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