The Department of Health’s new deputy nursing director has called on the profession to help him identify examples of over the top bureaucracy that need to be changed.
Speaking last week at the Florence Nightingale Foundation annual conference, David Foster highlighted how nurses around the country could help with the DH’s “red tape challenge”, which is intended to help cut the amount of bureaucracy nurses are exposed to.
He described how nurses at one trust had told him about the form they had to complete in order to secure a package of palliative care for patients that chose to die at home.
“The form was 80 pages long,” he said. “That’s clearly bonkers.”
“That’s the sort of thing we really need to expose and do something about. We have to balance what is a sensible record with what is unnecessary bureaucracy,” he said.
Mr Foster, who was deputy chief nursing officer for England prior to taking up his new post last week, called on nurses to tell him about any similar examples they knew about.
“You know about those sorts of things in your own patches much more clearly than I do,” he told delegates at the conference in London.
Mr Foster also provided more detail on the work of the Nursing and Care Quality Forum, the creation of which was announced in January by the prime minister to spread nursing best practice. It will be chaired by leading patient advocate and former nurse Sally Brearley.
He insisted the forum would be “independent” and was “not being controlled by the DH”. “It’s really important to recognise that, although I might be having conversations with the forum, it’s not for me or my colleagues to say what the forum does or how it does it,” he said.
As previously reported by Nursing Times, the forum is expected to look at four themes, namely “leadership”, “people first”, “values and culture”, and “time to care”.
Mr Foster said these four areas represented Ms Brearley’s “early thinking” and might change in future. It was “still very early days for the forum”, he said.
The forum’s steering committee was due to have held its first meeting at the end of February but this was put back to mid March, as its membership had not been finalised.
Mr Foster said: “The membership of the forum’s steering committee is being finalised and Sally will finalise that in the very near future.”
However, he added that membership of the wider forum itself would be “anyone who wants to contribute”. “That’s really important,” he said.
He told delegates the forum would not be holding “listening events” like those run by the NHS Future Forum last year when it was drawing up amendments to the health bill.
Instead, Mr Foster said the forum’s steering committee visit organisations around the country “to see what is really happening in the real world”.
“The forum will expose us to the best practice around,” he said, but noted that it would not write a report and would only exist for a limited period.
“It is not a committee in a dark room that will write a report,” he said. “It’s not a group that will go on forever.”