Nurses 'Spending Less Than Half Their Time with Patients'
Byline: Sophie Borland
NURSES are spending less than half their time looking after patients because they are overwhelmed by paperwork and form-filling, it emerged last night.
The findings come amid growing concerns that nursing staff are being increasingly swamped by bureaucracy and target-chasing which prevents them from being able to properly care for patients.
Some are left with little time to help the elderly eat their meals, while others are too busy to help patients go to the toilet.
Figures from one group of hospitals show senior sisters and charge nurses spend as little as 44 per cent of their time looking after their patients.
Managers at Cambridge University NHS Trust, which includes Addenbrooke's Hospital, have been forced to draw up new contracts for senior sisters and charge nurses - who oversee all the patients and staff on a ward - to ensure they devote at least 80 per cent of their time caring for patients.
Chief nurse Karen Castille told the Nursing Standard magazine the hospitals would be trying out the new contracts until the end of the year.
She said: 'The trust is piloting a scheme to free up sisters and charge nurses' time and trying to measure the impact of this.' She added that the hospitals had questioned whether employing nurses was actually value for money, as they were spending so little time with patients.
The pilot is expected to be monitored closely by other hospitals. But in recent years there have been concerns that staff are being forced to spend too much time filling-in time sheets and carrying out other administrative duties to ensure the ward was meeting appropriate targets.
The Royal College of Nursing has repeatedly warned that front-line staff are being bogged down by the weight of administrative duties. …