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'Will paperwork take up all of our time once we qualify?'

Posted by:

8 May, 2012

It will come as no great surprise, I am sure, that I decided to enter nursing because I wanted to have one-to-one contact with patients and actually feel as if I was making a positive difference to their lives.

However, even in my short time within the NHS I have begun to notice some substantial change which raises real questions about what sort of nurse I will become when I qualify in around two years.

Nurses are becoming increasingly bombarded with extra paperwork. Updated risk scores or changes to focus charts have the potential to take nurses away from the patients and tie them to the nurses’ station to carry out their daily administration duties.

I don’t fully understand the changes being made and it is nearly impossible to predict what changes will continue to happen during the course of my nurse training but a concern of mine is that I will end up being a nurse who has to spend more time with paperwork rather than getting to know my patients.

I fully understand the importance of documentation not only as a vital tool to protect nurses but also to provide a high standard of care to our patients but are we getting the balance right?

As students, are you similarly worried about how much of your time will be taken up by documentation?

As always I would be interested to know what you think so please feel free to leave your comments.

Readers' comments (13)

  • frustratedfairy

    As a student I'm worried about the "if it's not been written down then it's not been done" framework in law as well as the practicalities of actually writing things down in a timely fashion. I'm not convinced about the benefits of using "tick box" paperwork that I so often see.

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  • I have a conditional offer to study adult nursing from september. Currently though I am working as a healthcare assistant and even in this role I can see how documentation is increasing and taking away time that could be spent with my residents.

    I prefer spending my time with my residents and assisting them but in order to continue to do this I feel at times I am not updating the documentation as appropriately desired by the organisation. It's a tough balance to get right which I feel adds unnecessary pressure to the job role and will eventually have a negative impact on the residents as the requirement of documentation continues to increase, taking away valuable time spent with residents.

    Might I also add that staff ratio mix also does not help with balancing one-to-one and documentation as often it seems there is not enough staff.

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  • I agree c. everything said above - it sure is a tough balance. Thorough documentation is a necessary evil but, in many ways, a safeguard for both pts and nurses - you only have to look at some of the NMC Fitness to Practise hearings (available online) to see the consequences of incomplete documentation!!

    I thought that IT was supposed to speed things up but I haven't noticed any improvement. The real problem, as we all know, is the combination of form-filling and staff shortage; IMHO the latter is the real killer.

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  • Dear Adam
    Once you qualify you will find yourself doing paperwork in what should have been your break-time or when you should have been on the way home to see your long suffering other half/family. I hope you are ambidextrous (spelling?) as that will come in very handy when you need to write with one hand and eat/drink with the other. If working on the computer, try not to spill your drink on the keyboard!

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  • why paperwork?

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  • Adam
    Paperwork? The problem post qualification is not the actual nursing documentation ( although since I trained the nursing admission has gone from four A4 pages to nearly 50!) you will learn a style of economic writing that is employed on your ward which will save you time. The real killer is the extraneous form filling, audits for this and that, which although the management have known about for months suddenly HAVE to be completed TOMORROW, these only increase the further up the ward structure you go. Get past ward manager level, then paperwork IS your job fulltime, although you'll only have to carry one clipboard, and do one thing at a time without worrying if that confused patient will fall form bed etc

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  • *from bed ( fer all de speling polise owt der)

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  • Redpaddy12 - love your posts!

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  • Hi Adam, I never really worry about the paper work side of things, I just document everything as soon as ive finished with a patient. Some HCAs will write about hygiene and mobility needs and nutritional intake and then this means I just have to write about anxities, elimination, vital signs and then the plan of what happens next. I will never be drowned by paper work. I believe it comes down to being organised and prioritising. Great article though.

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  • It is true that paperwork is essential and protects us and our patients but it needs to be rationalised. So much is unnecessary and duplicated. So much is just to feed the management machine that has a seemingly unending appetite for forms, audits etc. You are so right redpaddy about the last minute audit. The NHS is being managed to death and we poor clinicians struggle to make time for our patients in all of this. How mad that the more admin we are given the less time we have for patients, the more problems occur that require further 'management/ admin' that leads to .....less patient time. I keep hoping my alarm will go off and this will just be a bad dream.

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  • Anon 6.22pm
    The thing about duplication kills me, one document we have requires, and I kid you not, four signatures as well as the name printed in full (x4)and the date and time(x4) on one page. The names and dates take up more room than the rest of the assessment!

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  • Anonymous 9-May-2012 6.22pm

    Agree. But unfortunately it is real not a bad dream.

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  • in word yes

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