NHS Spends £1 Billion Searching For Missing Equipment

The survey found that:

  • Patient records and lab results go missing at least once a day according to over a quarter of hospital nurses
  • Only 10% of nurses feel they have the time to check patient records thoroughly all
  • 33% of nurses believe the use of physical patient records, instead of electronic systems, are responsible for causing problems with patient care
  • Nurses call for technology to reduce patient safety incidents (44% of nurses feel that bar-coded wristbands would reduce patient safety incidents by over 50%)
  • 5.5%  of hospital nursing staff resort to asking patients to locate items on wards
  • 35% of nurses face daily shortages of medical supplies

The research, carried out by GS1 UK (a not for profit data standards and solutions organisation) and Nursing Standard, surveyed 861 nurses from across the United Kingdom. The majority of respondents seem to believe that RFID tags (as used in supermarkets) could help them lessen the problem. Real time stock level control, electronic records to track the location of equipment, bar coded patient wristbands were also cited as areas that if addressed would lead to significant efficiency savings.

The Chief Executive of GS1 UK, Gary lynch, said that “Despite political caution about committing to cutting funding to the NHS, it is generally accepted that services will, at least, face a freeze on spending increases over the next few years. Optimising hospital ward efficiency is therefore absolutely paramount. With all the pressure nurses are under to deliver quality care, it’s sad to see that hunting for missing equipment is wasting so much of their time, especially when they are having to look for even basic care provisions such as bed linen and feed drips”.

The Editor of Nursing Standard, Graham Scott, also commented on the report, saying that “This survey clearly demonstrates that simple changes to the way wards are organised can have a major impact on the ability of nurses to provide high quality patient care. It is alarming that one in four nurses admit they rarely have enough time to check patients’ records thoroughly before treating them. There are plenty of hospitals that have successfully streamlined their systems, and it is vital that the others now follow suit so that nurses do not continue wasting valuable time searching for equipment and supplies.”

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