Administrative Tasks (Nurses)

Oral Answers to Questions — Health – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 30th March 2010.

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Photo of Oliver Heald Oliver Heald Conservative, North East Hertfordshire 2:30 pm, 30th March 2010

What estimate he has made of the proportion of their working hours NHS nurses are required to spend on administrative tasks.

Photo of Ann Keen Ann Keen Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Health Services), Department of Health

NHS trusts are responsible for planning the activities of their nursing work force to meet the needs of their patients. It is not possible to collect centrally information on the proportion of working hours that NHS nurses are required to spend on administrative tasks.

Photo of Oliver Heald Oliver Heald Conservative, North East Hertfordshire

Two years ago, the Royal College of Nursing carried out research into this and found that front-line nurses were spending 1.6 million hours a week on non-necessary paperwork. We are two years on from that, so is the Minister able to give any information about whether any progress has been made? For nurses to spend a day a week on average on non-essential paperwork is clearly unsatisfactory. We do not want them pen pushing; we want them helping patients.

Photo of Ann Keen Ann Keen Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Health Services), Department of Health

I think that we would all agree, but keeping accurate records is a nurse's essential responsibility under the code of the Nursing and Midwifery Council, the body that regulates nurses. We acknowledge the RCN's report, and that is why more than £50 million has been put into the health service to support the "Releasing Time to Care" programme, in which more than 80 per cent. of primary care trusts are now involved. It is exceptionally important that accurate records and assessments are made of patients and that all communication is recorded but, in my opinion and that of many nurses, that has improved greatly.