A Birmingham nurse has warned waiting lists could grow and patient care may be compromised if health workers are not freed from the growing mountain of paperwork and administration.
A three-month diary study, involving staff at North Birmingham Primary Care Trust's stroke services unit, revealed some nursing staff spent nearly ten hours a week answering phone calls, photocopying, filing, or putting patient packs together.
Eileen Fegan, PCT head of stroke services, completed her project as the Department of Health concluded a pilot study with staff at Good Hope Hospital NHS Trust and North Birmingham PCT which could be rolled out to other trusts next year.
The stroke unit's seven physiotherapists, occupational therapists, and stroke support rehabilitation nurses kept a detailed diary of their activities at work to reveal how much time was spent treating patients, writing up notes and driving to appointments against the hours spent on basic administration.
One rehabilitation nurse spent nine hours and 50 minutes tackling basic office duties - 26.5 per cent of her 37-hour working week.
Mrs Fegan is in no doubt her team does too much and desperately needs admin support.
She said: "My team appear to spend more and more time putting patient packs together, taking phone calls, filing and photocopying.
"The amount of admin they have to do is phenomenal.
"Surely it makes sense to invest in some administrative staff who could do these tasks and allow these highly skilled nurses to go back to their jobs, which is treating patients.
"So I launched my own study to find out exactly how much time staff had to spend doing these menial tasks."
The nurse, who lives in Great Barr, fears patients could end up waiting up to four times longer for treatment if the issue is not tackled.
"At the moment stroke patients are seen by the team the next day, but in six months time that could go up to a week-long wait," she said.
"All it would take to alleviate this situation would be to have admin support two days a week.
"That alone would make such a difference."
She added: "I've always aimed to maintain a 'paperless office' which shouldn't be too difficult as most people have access to computers and are relatively computer literate.
"Yet the amount of paperwork and admin nursing staff are faced with is overwhelming.
"When you work out in the community, doing domestic visits, you're pretty autonomous but when you do return to your office the notes have to be written up because if something is done but not written down, it can be challenged in a court of law.
"Add to that the ringing phones, filing and photocopying and it's easy to see how staff become bogged down in all this paper."