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Alleviate the paper weight

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VOL: 97, ISSUE: 30, PAGE NO: 35

Janet Gillan MSc RGN NDNCert DPSN

Ward sisters and charge nurses need their own secretaries. In business, if you were managing such a diverse team of people this would be the norm.

Ward sisters and charge nurses need their own secretaries. In business, if you were managing such a diverse team of people this would be the norm.

Having a secretary would lighten the burden of paperwork on ward leaders, leaving them more time to do what they are trained to do and what they do best - providing quality patient care and supporting and developing their staff.

The idea of the ward leaders leading by example may then become a reality. The fact that ward leaders are drowning in paperwork sends out the wrong message to junior staff.

A secretary could fill in forms, do some of the ordering, oversee the catering, photocopy, keep diaries up to date, organise files and patients' notes, and liaise with other agencies.

We have had too many reports, with their attendant recommendations for action, about the difficulties facing ward leaders. Surely now is the time to provide a concrete solution to some of the problems they experience.

The stress many of them have to deal with could herald another exodus, with posts being filled by inexperienced staff.

It was recently reported that some nurses are protesting against the reintroduction of matrons on the grounds that any new responsibilities to be dished out should be given to ward leaders.

But as long as the right people are appointed, the new matrons could provide much-needed support, particularly to ward leaders who already have more than enough to do.

Coordinating different disciplines on a ward as well as managing the nursing care is difficult enough without taking on responsibility for the catering and cleaning, some of which is contracted out to the private sector.

Instead of protesting against the new matrons, these nurses would be better employed challenging the privatisation of clinical services.

If some of the innovations currently being rolled out had been challenged earlier we may not be in the mess we are in now.

There are 68 private finance initiative hospital projects currently in the pipeline. Despite assurances to the contrary, we are only a short step away from contracting out clinical services. Take note of that and you will realise that challenging matrons is very small beer indeed.

Meanwhile, nurses should be calling for administrative help to enable them to do their jobs. With secretaries in post, perhaps nurses would be able to look up from the administrative chaos they are bogged down in and get involved in the wider issues that may yet threaten their existence.

The government relies on the fact that we are looking inward, squabbling among ourselves, and remaining obedient.

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