Make time or we will fail!

My parents have always had a wall in their house that is covered with bits and pieces from their many adventures; theatre tickets, leaflets from one old house or another, pictures of interest all stuck on with a bit if wallpaper paste. It makes for fascinating reading and is a historical masterpiece, a walk through their life.

One such piece is a picture of a clock that says "Make time for life." We often hear that life is too short, time doesn't wait, make the most of every day etc etc and these are indeed wonderful mantras to live by. I try myself! The fact is however that time is short in life and indeed in work. So with time being  so short how can we and do we find time for those "extra" projects that we wish to start; painting the fence, hanging that picture, fixing that drippy tap, writing a bestselling novel the list is endless for most people! At work as at home, these projects may not fall within our responsibilities and therefore finding time is even harder; paperless working is often one such project!

Projects of any size require an organised team and must be given a strict timeline in order to succeed. Some (oncology) centres are lucky enough to have a dedicated team for their local projects while others are not so lucky. This may fall in with the IT or physics team or indeed a radiographer with a specialist interest. It is rarely however someone's sole project. If paperless working across the NHS is to be realised time must be given to the appropriate staff to carry out the changes needed, and change is never easy! People don't like change!

As such, people management, staff engagement and the involvement of every layer within the department or organisation will help to determine the success of a paperless roll out. In a recent blog for NHS England, Dr Harpreet Sood talks about ensuring the inclusion of the workforce to ensure successful change. "Adaptive change requires changing people’s hearts and minds. It’s harder than technical change, but when it’s successful it can result in huge improvements." (

Ultimately paperless working has the ability to create huge improvements in service delivery; increased efficiency and decreased costs to name but two, both of which are mentioned in the key elements of the Vision for Radiotherapy 2014-2024 document released by CRUK. There is of course a cautionary note that paperless working may not necessarily lead to "safer treatment" but that is a discussion for another time.

Pressures, including that of time, across the NHS are not to go unmentioned. We hear weekly of the pressures on NHS staff, to improve care, to meet targets, to carry out CPD and to just carry out the job for which they are employed to do. In the recently published NHS staff survey 57% of staff say they are unable to meet the conflicting demands on them at work.  (, asking staff to take on extra responsibility is therefore not an unenviable task but one that must be managed.

Managers be warned, that you will fall behind if you do not find the appropriate staff and give them time to develop paperless working within your departments. Looking at the both the membership numbers and the depth of discussions that are held on the P-RIG forum it suggests that there is an interest and that people are keen to change and are willing to work towards such changes, despite the pressures they feel. We must be willing to get up and hang that picture or fix that tap and it is the same willingness and enthusiasm that are the first steps to finding time to move towards a more paperless NHS. 

David Birchmore

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