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SHAs to fund productive wards

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Strategic health authorities have been ordered by the government to help nurses reduce paperwork in order to be able to spend more time with their patients.

The government has told all 10 SHAs to find £5m each from their own or their PCTs’ budgets to implement the Productive Ward programme.

Designed and piloted by the NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement, Productive Ward encourages nurses to make small changes to improve the way their ward is run by analysing the way they work.

To date 80% of English trusts have signed up to the initiative but, as health secretary Alan Johnson told RCN Congress delegates last month, only two trusts are currently using Productive Ward principles in all of their hospitals.

Nurses working on wards nationally will now make changes, including reducing the amount of paperwork and patient handover times, to double the amount of time they spend with patients because of the new funding.

Liz Ward, former nurse ward manager for Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, helped set up one of the first pilot sites in England within her former organisation.

Ms Ward, now working for NHS Institute to expand the programme, said: ‘This is excellent for nursing.

‘Over the last couple of years a lot of importance has been put on frontline services and wards have often been forgotten but what Productive Ward extension means is the focus is now back on the ward.’

Ms Ward said that it would have been preferable for the funding to have been provided directly from the government but added: ‘It [the funding] should not necessarily be mandatory because it could have become a tick-box exercise and that is not what Productive Ward is about.’

The Department of Health said SHAs will publish reports on where and how the funding has been used by the end of October.

The RCN refused to comment on the way the national project is being funded but general secretary

Peter Carter said: ‘More than anything, nurses wish to provide high quality care. The RCN is very pleased to say that the national rollout of the Productive Ward programme will help to do just that.’

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