Most doctors spend at least an hour a day on administration while GPs may spend a third of their time on red tape, a government review has found.
Health secretary Matt Hancock used the findings of the review to promise the profession further reductions in red tape. The review found more than a thousand examples of excessive bureaucracy that hamper doctors in their work. The review’s findings suggest that technology and communication can be improved – and support the use of communication systems such as WhatsApp.
The report says that duplicate requests for data must be ended and doctor appraisal systems simplified, cutting their length down to 30 minutes. Mr Hancock unveiled the findings at a conference of the NHS Confederation and will say that rules and regulations can “outgrow their original purpose – and can stifle innovation and damage morale.”
He said: “The changes we need to make don’t always have to be big. In the pandemic, we’ve seen that little things can make a big difference, for instance letting doctors and nurses communicate with patients securely over WhatsApp or providing single logins across multiple different computers. Rules and regulations have their place. They can be the cornerstone of safe and high-quality care. But when left unchecked, rules and regulations can outgrow their original purpose – and they can stifle innovation and damage morale. I’m determined that we seize this moment and build on the very best of what we have seen over these past nine months.”
He added: “I want to embed all of this – and more – for the long term. To build on our commitment to make health and care integration a reality and, where we can, remove the legal barriers that prevent our systems from working together as well as they might, giving us a legal door-stop that prevents us from slipping back into the silos and habits of the past.”
Danny Mortimer, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, welcomed the report. He said: “This report is a welcome indication that the Government is taking seriously the need to maintain the lean, light and agile culture of governance and regulation experienced during the COVID-19 crisis. We are pleased that the Government has listened to our members’ insights and concerns, and is willing to act on them. The Secretary of State must now make sure he does not lose the wind in his sails; we need to see concrete action to make sure busting bureaucracy becomes not just a catchphrase, but a reality.”