Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 13 July 2014

Hunt backing anti-bureaucracy drive

Jeremy Hunt wants to do away with 'cumbersome' red tape in the NHS

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is to set out plans to cut "cumbersome bureaucracy" in the health service by a third.

NHS staff claim red tape gets in the way of providing the care to patients, Mr Hunt is expected to tell the Reform conference on changes to the NHS.

He will detail some cases where lengthy administrative tasks obstruct medics from their primary job of care giving, including the case of a nurse who had to fill in a 22-page form to get a patient with a gunshot wound admitted to a trauma ward.

Nurses spend more than a million hours every week on paperwork, according to the Royal College of Nursing.

Mr Hunt will announce that he has commissioned the NHS Confederation to work with bodies to see how endless piles of paper work could be reduced.

He is expected to say: "As we make these changes, we must avoid thinking that care and compassion can be commanded from on high either by regulators or politicians. Endless boxes to tick, cumbersome bureaucracy and burdensome regulations are the problem - they cannot be the solution. Good healthcare is in the moment - the minute-by-minute interaction between a person in need and a person there to help.

"It is because people believe in the values of the NHS that they spend their working lives in it. So this is about unlocking those values that lie inside the outstanding doctors and nurses who deliver care week-in and week-out and stopping the dead hand of top-down targets crushing the goodness out of them."

Mike Farrar, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, added: "Patients must always come first if the NHS is to deliver the best and safest care possible. That is the simple defining principle at the heart of the recent Francis report into events at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.

"We need to deliver this principle, and we need help to make sure the system is set up in the right way to allow us to do it. It is in no one's interest that staff and management have to deal with red-tape that pulls them away from patient care.

"We need to make sure that the whole system - including hospitals, commissioners and regulators - revolves around the patient. We need the Government and policy makers to be alive to the dangers of burdening staff and organisations with overly-bureaucratic systems and processes."

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