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CCGs may be audited to explain pressures on acute trusts

More GP commissioners has led to more burdens on acute sector

Adrian O'Dowd

Monday, 09 June 2014

CCGs could be audited to try and find out why acute trusts are coming under growing pressure from bureaucracy, according to a new report from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).

The report Busting Bureaucracy makes a series of recommendations to help acute trusts spend less time on paperwork and more time providing direct care to patients.

The HSCIC worked with 16 acute trusts in England to understand local burdens of bureaucracy, since a pledge to increase efficiency and reduce burden was made last year by health secretary Jeremy Hunt.

The audit found that on average, junior doctors spend two thirds of their time accessing or updating patient notes, while more than two thirds of trusts type up paper notes retrospectively into an electronic system.

Technology has started to help, however, as the audit found that the use of Computers on Wheels has reduced ward round times by 45 minutes.

Acute trusts have consistently reported that the increase in the number of commissioners and the increase in the reporting requirements and associated query handling have significantly increased their burden, says the report.

One of its recommendations in the drive to control burden and bureaucracy is for the HSCIC to conduct further audits in CCGs to establish a rounded view as to the reasons for the reported increase in burden on acute trusts.

Such audits of CCGs would also highlight the level of burden within CCGs and help in developing joint approaches to reducing the burden, said the authors.

They also planned to engage with NHS England (which is responsible for managing CCG development) to understand its requirements and explore its influence on the information and reporting requirements placed on CCGs.

Accompanied by a new self-assessment toolkit, the report makes 13 recommendations based across themes related to controlling burden and bureaucracy, implementing processes and adopting technology.

The HSCIC now plans to work with two trusts to implement the recommendations in depth and will evaluate the impact later this year.

The report says: “It should be recognised that community and mental health trusts face some similar but also some very different challenges to acute trusts and HSCIC should consider conducting further audit exercises in community and mental health care settings to assess the level of burden and bureaucracy in those organisations.”

HSCIC chair Kingsley Manning said: “High quality data is crucial to transforming care, which is recognised by both health professionals and the public. However we want to work with providers to stamp out unnecessary bureaucratic burden on those who provide care.

“Our first audit report and recommendations today, along with the new self-assessment toolkit, are steps towards ensuring the right data is recorded to support better care, but in a way that does not place an unnecessary burden on staff.”

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