When Patient Care is at Stake, Are More Administration Assistants Too Much to Ask?
We all know that bureaucracy is a necessary evil, a dull but essential requirement that’s long since tainted the daily routines of the professionals many consider would be best channelling their efforts into more ‘hands-on’ work. Take police officers for example, would we rather have them out on the beat or chained to a desk for several hours a week?
While in some cases of ‘paperwork gone mad’ we can understand the need to document every fine detail, but sometimes, the very nature of the job, i.e. the factor that attracted an individual to a profession, needs to take preference.
This week the BBC reported that nurses were spending an increasing amount of their time on non-essential paperwork instead of dedicating that time to patients. We’re sure if any nurses are reading, they’ll probably testify to the fact that mounds of paperwork are nothing new, but in a study conducted by The Royal College of Nursing it was found that out of the 6,000 nurses polled, most claimed that the level of paperwork was getting worse.
The poll found that 17.3% of nurse’s hours were spent on tasks such as filing, photocopying and ordering supplies with more than 25% of nurses stating their ward didn’t have any kind of administrative assistant to help with the routine paperwork.
One district nurse, Irene Macpherson even highlighted the assessments nurses were required to carry out that had very little to do with their nursing work.
‘…we have to draw maps of the number of steps or actions we take to find a piece of equipment and then work out a quicker way of doing it, by better organising our work area’.
RCN general secretary Peter Carson highlighted that although some paperwork is essential and relevant within the nursing profession, the statistics unearthed by the survey demonstrate just how much precious patient time is being dominated by routine administration.
A consensus that the ‘ticking boxes’ NHS culture needs to be stemmed is widespread with the government claiming it wants to reduce bureaucracy by a third and health secretary Jeremy Hunt announcing a bureaucratic review which will be carried out by the NHS confederation.
While some blame the current government, the real issue here is patient care which should first and foremost be at the heart of what nurses do. Do we not train nurses at accredited universities to apply their specialist skills? If widespread ward practice sees the majority of nurses wasting their precious time with non essential tasks then the NHS is not only letting patients down but is wasting manpower and nursing salaries.
At Pearson Hinchliffe, we see patient care not as a luxury, but a right. We can only hope that changes are initiated quickly now these sobering statistics have come to light.
If you or a loved one have received unsatisfactory patient care and would like answers, get in touch with our friendly and professional team today by emailing Partner John Pollitt or calling 0161 785 3500.