The phrase ‘drowning in paperwork’ is a fitting description of how many nurses may feel about the wave of bureaucracy that breaks over them every day. From pouring over patient notes and wading through emails, to attending endless meetings and keeping up with the latest guidelines, nurses may feel that their working life is dominated by having to deal with bureaucracy.
The very word ‘bureaucracy’ has negative connotations. But as Kathryn Yates, Royal College of Nursing (RCN) lead for primary and community care, points out, there is also a positive aspect to the term because record keeping and other administrative tasks are an integral part of the nurse’s role.
‘The term ‘bureaucracy’ can have a negative edge so it is helpful if you see it as part of your role to provide care and to deliver care intervention; to plan, implement, and evaluate the care you give’, she says.
Jane Warner, a nurse practitioner, and an associate lecturer in community and primary care based in the West Country, believes some elements of bureaucracy, such as record keeping, can help to improve practice and enhance patient care.