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Nurses are "drowning in a sea of paperwork", the Royal College of Nursing said after figures suggested they spend 2.5 million hours a week on admin.
A poll on behalf of the union found that nurses across the UK spend an average of 17.3% of their time on non-essential paperwork and clerical tasks.
The RCN, which released the figures ahead of its annual congress, said nurses, who work for a combined 14.3 million hours a week, are being prevented from caring for patients.
Over four in five nurses (81%) said that having to complete non-essential paperwork prevented them from providing care.
Almost nine in 10 of the 6,000 nurses surveyed said non-essential paperwork such as filing, photocopying and ordering supplies had increased in the last two years.
In February, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced he commissioned the NHS Confederation to work to see how paperwork could be reduced.