RCN survey shows nurses spend more than a million hours a week on paperwork
Published: 28 April 2008
A new survey for the RCN shows that an increase in paperwork is preventing nurses from spending enough time caring for patients.
At Congress today the RCN will be calling for investment in administrative support for all frontline nurses in order to free up more of their time to care for patients. This follows the results of the survey, conducted by ICM for the RCN, that shows the increasing burden of administration imposed on nurses means they spend more than a million hours every week on paperwork and clerical tasks.
The survey of more than 1,700 nurses found that the vast majority, 88 per cent, believed that non-essential paperwork such as filing, photocopying and ordering supplies, had increased over the past five years yet only a fifth had seen an increase in administrative support in their workplace to help meet this demand.
85 per cent of nurses who took part in the survey firmly believed that help with paperwork would mean they could spend more time caring for patients. And even nurses who did have access to clerical support had, on average, less than three hours direct help each week, despite spending up to twice this amount of time on administrative duties.
Dr Peter Carter, Chief Executive & General Secretary of the RCN, 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."
He added that "wherever possible, these non-essential tasks should be carried out by clerical staff" and called for "an urgent increase in the number of ward clerks and other clerical support roles".
The RCN is also calling for all employers in the NHS to undertake a fundamental review of paperwork, with nurses central to the review process, which should aim to streamline administrative processes and improve ways of working to maximise the amount of time nurses spend on clinical care.
Dr Carter commented:
"We know that the money needed to fund this support is available to the NHS right now. The government could use just some of last year’s £2 billion NHS surplus to free up nurses from non-essential paperwork, so that they can spend every minute of their shift providing quality patient care.”
See the: press release