The excessive hours nurses spend on tasks that keep them away from patient care were highlighted at the RCN annual conference this April, based on an ICM poll of over 1,700 staff nurses. This revealed that they spend, on average, 7.3 hours weekly filling in forms; part-time nurses spend some 3.9 hours in this way. Figures for nurses in managerial positions, obviously expected to spend more time on administration, were not included. The total hours of bureaucracy amounted to over a million weekly.
Peter Carter, the RCN general secretary, pointed out that 88% of the poll respondents had experienced an increase, in the last five years, in the amount of bureaucratic tasks that did not need their professional judgment. These include filing, photocopying and ordering supplies. Over 28% pointed out that they had no access to clerical help. Only 22% believed administrative back-up has kept pace with the growth in bureaucratic demands.
Government ministers are being asked by the RCN to introduce new key care quality indicators, including patient satisfaction, complaints, cleanliness, infection rates, food, drug errors, communication and dignity.