Page last updated at 23:07 GMT, Sunday, 27 April 2008 00:07 UK

Nurses 'need help with paperwork'

Nurses say they need help with paperwork

An increase in paperwork is preventing nurses from spending enough time caring for patients, nurse leaders claim.

The Royal College of Nursing has called for extra investment to help nurses cope with non-essential paperwork, such as filing, photocopying and orders.

A poll of 1,752 nurses found that a fifth of the time of a standard nurse is spent doing non-essential paperwork.

The government said it was vital that nurses spent as much time as possible with patients.

The danger is that this is undermining their ability to care for patients and support relatives
Peter Carter, of the Royal College of Nursing

Peter Carter, general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: "Nurses are clearly feeling the burden of non-essential paperwork.

"The danger is that this is undermining their ability to care for patients and support relatives.

"Of course, there will always be a certain amount of paperwork that needs to be done, but whenever possible, these non-essential tasks should be carried out by clerical staff.

"To do this we need to see an urgent increase in the number of ward clerks and other clerical support roles."


Speaking as nurses attend their annual conference in Bournemouth, he said all trusts should carry out reviews of paperwork to make sure that all administrative tasks were necessary.

The RCN survey found that nine out of 10 nurses believed that paperwork, such as filing and photocopying, had increased over the last five years - but a quarter still had no access to clerical support.

It means that, as a profession, nurses are spending 1.6m hours a week in total dealing with paperwork.

Overall, 85% said the paperwork was getting in the way of caring for patients.

Chief Nursing Officer Christine Beasley said: "Nurses should spend their time caring for patients, not having to carry out unnecessary administrative tasks. However, some paperwork is necessary for good patient care.

"It is important that we look at the way wards are run to help increase time spent with patients.

"For example the Productive Ward programme, produced by the NHS Institute, helps nurses and other front-line staff find ways to release time to care."

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