Footsoldiers of the NHS walk 20 miles a week

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The Independent Online
A Team of academics is about to start tracking hospital doctors in an attempt to cut down on the amount of time and money the NHS spends on walking.

Doctors and nurses can walk as much as 20 miles a week along the long winding corridors of hospitals. The more junior the staff, the longer the walk, on average. A doctor or nurse who walks 20 miles a week at an average speed of 4 mph will spend five hours a week walking rather than nursing.

Now a team at the University of Wales, Cardiff, has been given a grant of nearly pounds 100,000, to investigate efficient movement around hospitals as part of an attempt to reduce overheads and increase the time doctors spend face-to-face with patients.

"The amount of time that staff like doctors and nurses spend walking around a hospital is costly. Surprisingly, in view of their importance, these issues have received minor attention from researchers," said Professor Ceri Davies, who leads the research and who was formerly head of estates at the Department of Health.

"Our study will provide a means by which effective changes can be made and put into practice."

The team will look at hospital layouts, location of wards and the main departments, and the implications of too much walking. It may result in reorganisation, relocation and ratio- nalisation with the aim of reducing the amount of time staff spend walking.

Corridor walking has long been a complaint among staff. Many hospitals are built on with wards going off long corridors, while a circular design might be more efficient.