‘More time’ on admin than patients
Wednesday 25th September 2013, 12:10AM BST.
Doctors spend more than twice as much time on paperwork as they do on home visits, a survey suggests.
Attending management meetings and doing administration takes up around 17 hours a week, compared to seven hours spent at patients’ bedsides.
About 400 doctors were polled for the survey, having previously expressed a willingness to be questioned about the NHS.
More than one in four (28%) said they were “very concerned” about the health service and could not see a future for the NHS, while 44% believe the standard of patient care will drop in the next five years.
Some 17% said cuts to the NHS was their number one professional concern, while the same proportion said they had too much paperwork.
A quarter said they knew patients delayed seeing them because of appointment waiting times and 55% of these thought this had a negative impact on recovery.
Doctors also criticised Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, with 72% saying they questioned his ability in the role and 49% saying he failed to properly understand the needs of the NHS.
The survey, from law firm Your Legal Friend, also questioned 1,000 members of the public.
Some 35% said they had received poor care from health workers while 71% delayed going to the doctor. Of these, 52% said it was because of trouble getting an appointment, with one in five waiting a week or more.
Dr Chris Steele, resident doctor on ITV’s This Morning, said: “These are worrying times for the NHS, as doctors express considerable doubt about whether the system actually works.”
He said doctors were feeling hampered by Government reforms.
“Furthermore, patients don’t seem to be receiving the basic level of care they deserve. The last thing any doctor wants is to see their patients suffer unnecessarily and we must address problems in the current system so that patient care is placed front and centre at all time.’
Sara Stanger, a solicitor at Your Legal Friend, said: “Patients are generally very trusting of the medical profession and when the trust is broken the consequences can be devastating.”
A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said: “We are determined to help hard-working staff give the highest quality care to patients.
“We’ve protected the NHS budget and are investing in better technology to free up time for patients, not paperwork.
“Our reforms mean that doctors and other professionals now have more power to improve care.
“The NHS is performing well with waiting times low and stable and the vast majority of patients getting good, safe care.
“But we know challenges lie ahead and more needs to be done to help the NHS deal with an ageing population and increasing pressures.
“That is our priority and the reason we are working to boost the number of GPs, integrate health and social care services and gear the NHS towards keeping people well for longer.”