Forms, forms, forms,
I too work in a hospital, and I can attest that the amount of paperwork we get through is absolutely ridiculous.
A particular bugbear of mine is blood movements:
If I need to get blood for a patient I need to fill in 4 forms, all with the same information. I also have to put that same information into a computer which logs it on a server which happens to be in another hospital on the other side of the city, and if the private WAN had stopped working (again) I have to fill in another form with the same information again and detailing why I haven't used the computer. This even applies if I am getting blood for a patient who is bleeding profusely and needs blood *NOW*!
"Sorry, love, I've just got to fill this form in - don't die for the next 10 minutes, will you?"
I think the problems with paperwork are, however, made worse by the attitude towards IT. I don't know if it is the same for every trust but where I work people are not allowed to share file-space for security reasons - so if somebody wants a copy of a document then they have to get it e-mailed to them by somebody else. The result of this is that they get so many e-mails that their inbox is unmanageable so in order to make sense/keep track of it all it all gets printed out.
There is also an awful lot of "covering your own ass" going on, where information which is already automatically captured is also put onto a form just in case the computer fails and/or just in case the patient decides to sue the trust. The NHS has this "no blame culture" which basically means if you screw up... YOUR ON YOUR OWN!
And the computers do screw up a lot, and we're only allowed to use IE6, and it takes at least 20 minutes to log into a computer because the network is so damned slow, and users are locked down to using only one PC - if you want to read your email or print off one of the many forms elsewhere you have to ring up the IT department to get permission.
One of my favourite bits of IT management is that every time El Reg has an article about Facebook the NHS firewall blocks it: "Site blocked. Reason: social networking". Not only are we not allowed on Facebook (which I understand and agree with) but we're not allowed to know that Facebook even exists!
One of our endoscope stacks broke down once. I should explain that it has, as one of it's components, there is a colour printer which prints out little pictures to put in the patient notes. Anyhow, the printer stopped working - the engineer popped down to Argos and bought a cheap printer, brought it back and plugged it in. We were besides ourselves with envy - if any of us had needed a new printer it would have taken months of haggling to get permission from a senior manager, filling in forms and trying to get budget codes. I was seriously asked once if I could strip down and rebuild a laserjet printer because it would be easier than getting a new one!
Anonymous because... frankly, I don't want a P45.