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Hunt set to unveil anti-bureaucracy drive for NHS staff


Health secretary Jeremy Hunt was today expected to set out plans to cut “cumbersome bureaucracy” in the health service by a third.

NHS staff claim red tape gets in the way of providing the care to patients, Mr Hunt is expected to tell the Reform conference on changes to the NHS.

He will detail some cases where lengthy administrative tasks obstruct medics from their primary job of care giving, including the case of a nurse who had to fill in a 22-page form to get a patient with a gunshot wound admitted to a trauma ward.

Nurses spend more than a million hours every week on paperwork, according to the Royal College of Nursing.

Mr Hunt will announce that he has commissioned the NHS Confederation to work with other bodies to see how endless piles of paper work could be reduced.

He is expected to say: “As we make these changes, we must avoid thinking that care and compassion can be commanded from on high either by regulators or politicians. Endless boxes to tick, cumbersome bureaucracy and burdensome regulations are the problem - they cannot be the solution.

“Good healthcare is in the moment - the minute-by-minute interaction between a person in need and a person there to help.

“It is because people believe in the values of the NHS that they spend their working lives in it. So this is about unlocking those values that lie inside the outstanding doctors and nurses who deliver care week-in and week-out and stopping the dead hand of top-down targets crushing the goodness out of them.”

Mike Farrar, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, added: “Patients must always come first if the NHS is to deliver the best and safest care possible. That is the simple defining principle at the heart of the recent Francis Report into events at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.

“We need to deliver this principle, and we need help to make sure the system is set up in the right way to allow us to do it.

“It is in no one’s interest that staff and management have to deal with red-tape that pulls them away from patient care.

“We need to make sure that the whole system - including hospitals, commissioners and regulators - revolves around the patient. We need the government and policy makers to be alive to the dangers of burdening staff and organisations with overly-bureaucratic systems and processes.”






Readers' comments (20)

  • michael stone

    How is this going to be achieved - the NHS is obsessed with 'process', and the recording of compliance with process presumably accounts for a lot of this paperwork.

    This one is tricky !

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  • Small, individual, electronic devices for use at the patient's bedside that sends their data to a central point where it's continually updated would be a good start.....I can already hear the chorus of 'no you cant do that' because..... of the expense, health and safety, infection control, privacy, safeguarding etc. But why not?

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  • Brid Hehir | 12-Feb-2013 2:19 pm

    Small, individual, electronic devices for use at the patient's bedside that sends their data to a central point where it's continually updated would be a good start.

    We already have them , they're called IPads, but please stop talking sense, it isn't allowed in the NHS.

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  • Brid Hehir | 12-Feb-2013 2:19 pm

    Good idea Brid.

    I think that a serious look at what we currently record and then shredding most of it, (because it really is unnecessary and is nothing to do with patient wellbeing), would be a good place to start. That would, of course, necessitate the dismantling of the NHS target driven culture...........oh dear, what a shame that would be...!

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  • I read somewhere a few weeks back that the government had pledged, I think it was £76 million, for nurses to decide how it could be spent on modern tech. to allow them to spend more of their time at the bedside.

    It may be unfounded as I have no experience of using tablets at the bedside apart from attending a presentation of new software for tablets at a European nursing congress several years ago being trialled on one district hospital. Although there must have been significant advances since then the potential barriers I foresee may be the cost to the NHS, risk of theft and most importantly data input and handling errors, causing harm to patients, and system failures. Already the problems of data input, processing and retrieval can be seen in other services where obviously it is only as good as the data handling by the computer operator although the errors are often passed to the computer itself!
    How often do we hear 'oh, sorry, it was a computer error' - far more serious when it concerns patients and their treatment and care!

    I think once there is a reduction in the influence of the baby boomer generation due to retire and all of the staff are the 'net' generation onwards there will be radical changes in how information is recorded and stored, but who knows whether or not this will be for the better?

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  • Ill believe it when I see it. Expect to see more paperwork in the wake of the Francis Report.

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  • Sounds really positive but the accountability the public, regulators and government demand mean increasing amounts of paperwork and electronic records. We'd be better off calculating how time each bit of paperwork, particularly risk assessments, pathways and care plans take to complete and making them as streamlined and user friendly as possible. Always is asking is this worth the time it is taking.

    Also if he really wants to cut red tape to benefit the NHS, do it with social care referrals and funding. If we could get every medically fit social patient discharged within days rather than weeks pressure would be greatly reduced.

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  • Health secretary Jeremy Hunt - politicians created this bureaucracy, now they are saying we have to make changes to "how endless piles of paper work could be reduced". Seeing is very much believing, and frankly, I don't.

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  • clipboard nurses to be replaced by iPad nurses?

    excellent for the efficient and elegant managerial image, tottering around in high heels, handbags, a iPad looks far more sleek and chic than the soon to be outmoded clipboard! I wonder what they will fill their desks with when they no longer have mounds of paperwork. It will certainly put an end to their binning of incidence forms!

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  • I have always been bogged down by paperwork. It really does take you away from youre patients. Even patients pass comments. When taking a patient on to our caseload, you could wallpaper a room with the amount of paperwork that has to be completed. Previous comments regarding incorrect data being put onto computers, what about poor handwriting? Duplication of paperwork, what you write in your notes in the patients home has to be written again in base notes. I can understand why this needs to be done for communication purposes but there must be an easier way.

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