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Do ward sisters spend too much time on paper work?

Posted by:

18 February, 2013

The Francis report has recommended that ward nurse managers should operate in a supervisory capacity, and not be office-bound or considered an extra pair of hands.

They should know about the care plans relating to every patient on the ward and make themselves visible to patients and staff. Critically, they should work alongside staff as a role model and mentor, developing clinical competencies and leadership skills within the team.

Do ward sisters spend too much time on paper work?

Are they regularly included in the numbers because of staff shortages?

Do they have appropriate training to take on leadership roles?

What support do they need to get out of the office?

 

9 ways the Francis report could change your nursing practice

 

Join our @NTTwitchat when we will be discussing the role of the ward sister on 1st March at 3pm

Readers' comments (18)

  • ward sisters are nurses, they are there to muck in, help with whatever needs doing. nurses are getting fed up with them having every day a 'management day'. is it time that we went back to the olden days when nurses were promoted because they were experts in their field. nowadays it seems you become a ward sister/manager because you can do the e-roster, keep within budget and deal with complaints - you don't seem to need to know anything about the speciality you work in.

    as a student I worked with the sisters in my third year, they taught me loads of stuff as my 'facilitators' - I cannot remember the last time I saw a ward sister/manager work with a student, let alone a NQ nurse.

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  • There are some excellent ward sisters around, there are also those who we believe become sisters because they like 'management' and office work.

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  • Some ward managers are great, and are on the wards with the other staff working alongside them. Others however, are all too happy to hide in the office and do endless paperwork. Part of the problem is that there is a ridiculous amount of paperwork, audits etc that management come up with,taking them away from the ward and patient's bedside.

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  • I totally agree with the Francis recommendations on this.
    I used to work with a sister, she should have medals for her ward and time management. Not a minute of her time on the ward was wasted.
    She knew how to keep her staff happy and every one wanted to work on her ward.
    She would not tolerate bullying or lazyness.
    She dealt with relatives in a superb way, it was all very organised they had to make appointment to see her, so when she was with her patients, teaching, or supervising she could consentrate on that without interruptions. Every carer and nurse knew they had her support and so she got the best out of them. The off duty was very fair no one complained. Every thingh to do with good patient care was of high standard, nurses had allocated time for documentation, and the ward was well covered during that time.
    She was a friendly person yet strong in her role.
    I learnt a lot from her and also followed in her foot steps in a lot of ways.
    I now work under a sister who hides away in her office no one is happy wih their shift pattern, she does not listen, just belches out orders when she is around and never helps even when she is well aware that we are desperate for help.
    Documentation we do on our own time and when we ask for time in lieu or payment for our extra time that is a big sorry, but no.

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  • Yes I totally agree they spend too much time. ..and guess what? its all ticking silly boxes! They do not get off their chairs to do these audits. They should be on the floor and supervising as stated in the Francis report. But the thing is, as good as this report was, it is only another set of recommendations which will fall on deaf ears because managers and big bosses in the NHS are not listening. They dont get fired for messing up - they get promoted!

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  • Its very annoying when people want to get promoted and seem to get away from patient care. It feels they quickly lose touch of the challenges they've left behind and they are also not effective enough in their new role at ensuring patient care and safety (then some get promoted soon after again). Promotion seems to be there to plug gaps, sometimes only when they've received minimal training and experience. Some are still expected to plug gaps during staff shortages, so not achieving either role. Everywhere seems to be huge amounts of paperwork, various audits and even audits of audits!
    Our ward sisters and manager/matron, all very knowledge with heaps of experience, work very hard and have regular full hands on shifts, and do not delegate their work to junior staff. Another staff would also be take management responsibility at the time. They seem to manage to fit in their paperwork time on designated days. Its reassuring to be able to quickly tap their experience when something challenging pops up and that they can see any difficulties that arises during shifts, day, night or weekends. Only if/when required to step away from direct patient care, someone will temporarily cover until that particular issue is resolved. When on management or patient care shifts, it doesn't matter everyone will still muck in and help when required, as help is needed there and then. The benefits is that we have very good team work and higher morale than other areas/departments I've seen/worked in.

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  • yes, in my opinion the ward sister spends far too much time in the office. another very important question you should be asking is whether or not ward sisters know anything about the speciality they work in, in my experience many don't and the ward would not function at all if it were not for experienced staff nurses.

    how do ward sisters feel about being moved from ward to ward just to 'manage' the budgets and the staff?

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  • yes they do, one I worked with spent the whole shift in the office or fussing around tidying up after everyone, every day was a management day - it was ridiculous, she didn't help at all and most of the staff were far happier when she was not around stressing everyone out.

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  • there is obviously a plan to make ward sisters supernumary so this question is a bit pointless really.

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  • we all spend to much time doing paperwork and we have allowed this to happen. I counted the number of different forms, charts, assesment tools and plans I had to write on to admit a patient it came to 40!!!!!
    We are now involved in paper centred care not patient centred!
    Then add in all the "Cleaner hospitals Campaign" paperwork and its Crazy!

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  • Anonymous | 22-Feb-2013 1:12 pm

    "Paper-centred care" would be a good slogan for the NHS. It might make people sit up and realise!

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  • I like 'paper centred care' too. I agree that we all do too much paperwork, the question shouldn't really be about whether ward sisters do too much, it should be about do they spend enough time on the wards supporting staff and looking after patients - the answer to which is no, not where I work.

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  • Yes But

    Anonymous | 22-Feb-2013 1:12 pm

    We are now involved in paper centred care not patient centred!


    I love it!

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  • could we somehow integrate this paper-centred care into the 6 Cs and put an end to this silly nonsense.

    "CREATE" .......... more posts and fill them with more staff. It also begins with the letter 'C'!

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  • from last post

    oh, and ...

    PS

    "CREDIT" for the work nurses actually do, lots and lots of it. Are there tick boxes for that too?

    How about Patient-Centred Care

    and Nurse-Centred Nursing?

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  • Being a good ward sister or charge nurse is akin to impressive juggling when they pick up additional items as they juggle then put them back down in sected order until they have just one which they then juggle with one hand using the other to scratch their nose. Its very impressive.

    However, not nearly as impressive as the good clinical manager who can juggle three steel rings and just when you think its not as impressive catch them all and somehow cause them to be linked together!

    How the hell do they do that!

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  • I'm a ward manager or ward sister as I'm told they want to call me, it's my second ward to manage in-between working as an ITU nurse and the district. The experience that I bring to the ward is matched by my staffs interaction with me as not just the leader of the team but also the learning within the team. If I don't know the latest dressing cos the formulary has been changed, I ask for help, its hard being the font of all knowledge at times!!! Yes I do go to my office to do the essential paperwork that enables my ward to show its achievements and yes it is tough trying to balance clinical with managing but I'm so proud of both my ward and my staff, I chose to take on this responsibility, I'm sooooo sadden at times to read on these comments the slagging off we get. The Francis Report is aiming for us to be supervisory which I'm nervous about but willing to try, I can imagine no doubt we will be called lazy whatits even more not being in the numbers, we cant win!!!

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  • Absolutely ward sisters have to much paperwork, as a ward sister I try to balance clinical work with the paperwork, but more and more is being put onto ward sisters/managers. Rostering, wages complaints, arranging training for staff, budget management, this list goes on. It is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain the balance. Staff require there wages to be paid and need rosters, training is required for staff all this takes time and detracts a person from spending clinical time with patients and staff alike.

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