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NHS 'losing £1bn a year' through lack of simple IT

Nurses in the UK are spending about 26 days a year searching for missing equipment and paper-based records, wasting £1bn in wage costs.

Nurses in the UK are spending about 26 days a year searching for missing equipment and paper-based records, wasting £1bn in wage costs.

Research by the data standards organisation GS1 UK and trade magazine Nursing Standard found nurses spend too long looking for equipment and patient records and that simple IT could help them save time.

Staff are calling for technology to help them do their jobs properly and make their day-to-day lives easier. RFID tags are already being used by some hospitals to keep track of expensive equipment or particular patient beds, and nurses want similar IT to help them manage resources on the ward.

Most wanted technologies include a real-time view of stock levels, electronic records to track the location of equipment, and barcoded wristbands to reduce "patient safety incidents". Paper-based medical records also add to the problems, they say, with only 10% having time to check records properly.

Researchers interviewed 861 nurses in the UK and estimated from their answers that a total of 26 days a year per nurse are being wasted by nurses looking for equipment and paper-based records

Graham Scott, editor of Nursing Standard, said, "There are plenty of hospitals that have successfully streamlined their systems, and it is vital that others now follow suit so nurses do not continue wasting valuable time searching for equipment and supplies."

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