Patients denied care as nurses fill in forms

'Non-essential' clerical tasks take up 2.5 million hours a week, poll reveals

Hospital patients are being denied vital care because overstretched nursing staff spend too much time filling in forms and doing unnecessary paperwork, it is claimed. Britain's nurses spend an estimated 2.5 million hours a week on "non-essential" paperwork and clerical tasks, according to poll results released today. Time taken away from patient care equates to more than an hour a day for every nurse in Britain, the Royal College of Nursing's annual conference in Liverpool will be told.

The mountain of paperwork stopping nurses from doing the job they trained for has more than doubled in the past five years. The survey of more than 6,000 nurses, by ICM, reveals that more than half (55 per cent) say the burden of non-essential administrative tasks has risen dramatically in the past two years. Disturbingly, more than three-quarters (81 per cent) of nurses said that having to complete such paperwork prevents them from attending to patients.

Dr Peter Carter, head of the RCN, said: "These figures prove what a shocking amount of a nurse's time is being wasted... Yes, some paperwork is essential and nurses will continue to do this, but patients want their nurses by their bedside, not ticking boxes."

The Government says it is reviewing NHS bureaucracy. The health minister Dan Poulter said: "Patients, not paperwork, must be our NHS's priority." He said plans to cut red tape in the NHS will save some 26,000 staff days, "and we are looking at how to reduce bureaucracy even further. We are investing £140m in new technology and training so NHS nurses and midwives can spend as much time as possible with patients."

Yet technology has actually made the situation worse, according to two-thirds of nurses surveyed – who say the use of IT has increased the time they spend on paperwork. "When it takes a nurse double the amount of time to complete a paper form and then type it up on a computer, you know something has gone very wrong indeed," said Dr Carter.

Pam Randall, 59, who works as a staff nurse at a rehabilitation hospital near Croydon, said: "We are stuck doing work on the computer when we should be out looking after the patients. The computer systems do not cover all the things that we have to write so some notes are on computer, some notes are on paper, and the two different sorts of notes rarely get put together."

Years of government-imposed bureaucracy, endless care plans and health and safety assessments, along with a culture of fear over hospitals being sued have led to a massive increase in paperwork, she claims. "I trained in the 1970s and there was nothing like the amount that we have to do now. New systems are being brought in all the time. The choice you have to make is between doing the paperwork during the shift and doing less direct care, or adding the time it takes to do the paperwork to the end of your day."

Labour yesterday attacked the coalition over cuts to frontline NHS staff. The shadow health minister, Andrew Gwynne, said it has slashed thousands of nursing posts – more than 800 in the past month alone. He accused the Government of "wasting billions on a chaotic reorganisation" and allowing a situation where "form-filling is taking nurses away from their patients for longer and longer."

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £45,000

    £18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

    Recruitment Genius: Test Development Engineer

    £35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you inspired to bring new a...

    Recruitment Genius: Trainee Motor Engineer

    £14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Technical Administrator

    £15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company are a world leadin...

    Day In a Page

    On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

    On your feet!

    Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
    With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

    The big NHS question

    Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
    Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Big knickers are back
    Thurston Moore interview

    Thurston Moore interview

    On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
    In full bloom

    In full bloom

    Floral print womenswear
    From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

    From leading man to Elephant Man

    Bradley Cooper is terrific
    In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

    In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

    Dame Colette Bowe - interview
    When do the creative juices dry up?

    When do the creative juices dry up?

    David Lodge thinks he knows
    The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

    Fashion's Cher moment

    Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
    Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

    Health fears over school cancer jab

    Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
    Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

    'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

    Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
    Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

    Weather warning

    Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
    LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

    High hopes for LSD

    Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
    German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

    Saving Private Brandt

    A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral