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Paperwork burden affects patient care

Nurses spend 2.5 million hours per week on paperwork preventing them from providing patient care, a Royal College of Nursing (RCN) survey has revealed. 

The amount of admin work done by nurses has doubled since 2008. Close to a fifth (17.3%) of hours worked by nurses now consist of paperwork, the RCN claim. 

And more than three quarters (81%) of nurses said having to complete non-essential paperwork prevented them from providing direct patient care.

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

He said: “We are encouraged the government has acknowledged this issue… But urgent action is needed now.” 

Of the 6,387 nurses polled, 86% said the amount of paperwork had increased in the last two years, with over half (55%) saying it had increased “dramatically.”

Technology use

More than two-thirds (69%) of nurses said that the use of information technology has increased the amount of time they spend on paperwork and administration. 

Just over a quarter of nurses polled said that information technology is “not appropriate” for the job they need to do. 

Some RCN members claim that when technology is not correctly implemented, it can double the amount of paperwork for each patient, especially for nurses who work in the community. 

Dr Peter Carter said: “When it takes a nurse double the amount of time to complete a paper work and then type it up on a computer, you know something has gone very wrong indeed.” 

He added: “We need a smart, efficient and IT savvy NHS, not a halfway house that actually impedes the work of staff and takes them away from patients.”