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Jane Bates: safe staffing is more than just a numbers game

Cuts to administrative support and increasing amounts of ‘paperwork’ are taking nurses away from patients’ bedsides, says Jane Bates. 
jane bates

Cuts to administrative support and increasing amounts of paperwork are taking nurses away from patients bedsides, says Jane Bates

Nothing gives a worse impression to the public than a nurse sitting at a desk, tapping away, when he or she should be at the bedside with patients.

But what are we supposed to do? With so much paperwork now involving computers, I spend a good deal of time inputting data, which feels wrong.

A friend of mine has a different perspective. He is part of a team that deals with research and investigation into how the NHS functions a troubleshooter, in other words and many of his colleagues find it difficult to understand why clinical staff do not keep records as strictly as they could.

I recently put him right about nurses duty of care being to their patients, and that our priority

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Cuts to administrative support and increasing amounts of ‘paperwork’ are taking nurses away from patients’ bedsides, says Jane Bates 

Nothing gives a worse impression to the public than a nurse sitting at a desk, tapping away, when he or she should be at the bedside with patients.

But what are we supposed to do? With so much ‘paperwork’ now involving computers, I spend a good deal of time inputting data, which feels wrong.

A friend of mine has a different perspective. He is part of a team that deals with research and investigation into how the NHS functions – a troubleshooter, in other words – and many of his colleagues find it difficult to understand why clinical staff do not keep records as strictly as they could.

I recently put him right about nurses’ duty of care being to their patients, and that our priority is to complete data that relates to their safety and treatment, rather than statistics or research information.

And at the end of a 12-hour shift with no opportunity to visit the loo or grab a drink, the only thing you want to sit down and type is your resignation.

Cuts to administrative support means that nurses and midwives often have to cover the clerking role on wards and departments, even when there are not enough of us to carry out our own duties.

This needs to be taken into account in relation to safe staffing, which is more complicated than a headcount of nurses and healthcare assistants.

Numbers do not tell the whole story. Perhaps, before everything else, this is where the troubleshooters’ focus should be. 


About the author 

Jane Bates

Jane Bates is an ophthalmic nurse in Hampshire

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