Nurses in drive for 'compassionate care'


Jane Cummings, England's chief nursing officer: "Patients must be treated with compassion"

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More emphasis should be placed on nurses providing compassionate care in hospitals, industry leaders have said.

In a new campaign aimed at reassuring the public, chief nursing officer for England Jane Cummings said action must be taken to ensure the values nurses stand for are not betrayed.

The call comes amid concern over reported neglect and abuse in hospitals and care homes.

The Patients Association said the plans must be translated into action.

Following an eight-week consultation involving more than 9,000 nurses, midwives, care staff and patients, Ms Cummings will tell a conference in Manchester how she plans to embed values such as compassion, communication, and commitment in public health care.

'Poor care a betrayal'

It is more than three years since the scandal triggered by unusually high death rates at Stafford hospital provoked deep unease over the culture of care in the health service.

Since then a succession of inquiries and reports into the NHS and other care settings has reinforced these concerns, which have become an urgent political priority.

With the launch of Compassion in Practice - a three year strategy for nursing - Ms Cummings will call for new ways of measuring patient feedback, getting trusts to review their culture of care and their staffing levels and explaining in public how they impact on standards.

Ms Cummings is expected to say: "The context for health care and support is changing. Most significantly, with people living longer, we have a greater number of older patients and people to support, many with multiple and complex needs.

"And while the health, care and support system provides a good - often excellent - service, this is not universal. There is poor care, sometimes very poor. Such poor care is a betrayal of what we all stand for."

'Difficult to implement'

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Peter Crome, emeritus professor of geriatric medicine at Keele University, explained what the drive was aiming at.

He said: "I believe what they mean is that nurses and other care staff - whether they're in hospitals, hospices or in the community - should take a more caring and compassionate role when it comes to looking after vulnerable groups, rather than what is often seen as a very task-oriented approach."

Prof Crome said it was possible to focus on technical aspects of nursing at the same time as basic care, adding it was crucial to have care values "reinforced in the the training environment and the working environment".

In particular, he said it was important to observe, monitor, instruct and if necessary correct those training in care.

"But without adequate numbers of trained staff, this agenda - which must be welcomed - will be difficult to implement," he said.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 228.

    I've had terrible experiences with nurses over past 5 years, but the issues are easily remedied:

    - fewer foreign nurses
    - more nurses on a ward - far too few to cover the patients properly
    - better pay and conditions for nurses
    - less use of nurse banks
    - cut consultant/surgeon pay and make NHS only
    - re-instate proper ward Sisters as point of contact
    - better IT provision
    - reward good care

  • rate this

    Comment number 227.

    My 92 year old father spent his final days in a large NHS hospital, where I was witness to acts of kindness and compassion by hospital staff, which still leave me close to tears. To wake up from a fitful sleep to see a stranger cradling his head in her hands, talking to him softly in the middle of the night, comforting him and making his death easier, is an experience I have no words to describe.

  • rate this

    Comment number 226.

    I have been in hospital twice in the last two years plus several outpatient visits All the nurses I met were compassionate. I have only praise for them. They are totally overworked and I found that if you were reasonable with your requests and acknowledged how busy they were they would respond in kind. Their main overload is from elderly confused patients who dont recognise that they are busy

  • rate this

    Comment number 225.

    As a degree educated male nurse I am tired of being judged as 'too posh to wash'. I worked my way up through the ranks from being a HCA for 4.5 years to doing my training and becoming a registered nurse. I have been qualified for 15 months and am not ashamed to admit I have cried several times due to failing to give the standard of care I expect of myself. Patient ratio and paperwork is crippling.

  • Comment number 224.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 223.

    Do people die from a lack of compassion?

  • rate this

    Comment number 222.

    many British nurses have poor grammar and numeracy skills. I have seen young British nurses during my NVQ exams having difficulties with basic tasks. It was shocking , I am not a nurse but for me our exam was easy. In Poland those skills are expected from 10 year old child. (for some British young nurses most important was makeup, tea breaks than patient).

  • rate this

    Comment number 221.

    To Mikeb: Do you know what it is 'firsthand' to be a nurse? But point taken in so much as nursing appears to be management led and not professional led. Some authors do describe nursing as a co-profession and is perhaps more accurate until we the nurses can get away from outdated 90's business management. From a caring married practical/academic male nurse. Much love x

  • rate this

    Comment number 220.

    My wife was an intensive care sister for over 20 years. She left nursing when one of the best nurse tutors was promoted under Briggs/Salmon to a 'Nursing Officer' post. Instead of showing young nurses how to make patients comfortable and pain free, she toured the wards counting how many cups had been broken. Salmonisation killed traditional nursing. It won't be easy to resuscitate.

  • Comment number 219.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 218.

    Since the 2010 gen election,_600,000 nurse-related jobs lost in the UK, 10% decrease. (RNC).

    Why now has this issue of compassion,communication and commitment been raised, and who are these industry leaders?

    We all need to fight for our nurses and NHS. Do not privatise.

    Reverse job cuts - more nurses!

    Corporations and politicians need the compassion drive, not nurses!

  • rate this

    Comment number 217.

    Now I am not saying all nurses are wonderful because some aren't but unless the NHS either reduce the paperwork burden on our nurses or decrease the nurse to patient ratio (which will cost the tax payer), it's hard to see howchanges will come about.

  • rate this

    Comment number 216.

    Over 40 years ago my father, who was frequently admitted to hospital intensive care, commented that nurses would be very happy if they didn't have patients to deal with. What did my mother work as - a night superintendent, the night deputy matron, at major hospitals. This is not a new problem.

  • rate this

    Comment number 215.

    Give nursing care back to the nurses. Re-introduce Matrons and allow ward Sisters(or Charge Nurses) to run the wards instead of having non-nurse managers responsible for nursing care.

  • rate this

    Comment number 214.

    196 Chris & 34 Hippie
    Setting targets is not the way to care. Caring makes people miss targets. Decisions and monitoring should be by experienced health care professionals, not politicians with one eye on (often misinformed) public opinion. Most nurses are in the job because they are compassionate people but are pressured to meet targets instead of caring. Understaffing does not help.

  • rate this

    Comment number 213.

    I'm v v proud to be a nurse. Our commitment and compassion is vital, so too is having enough staff. We must be accountable for the care we deliver and hold boards to account for ensuring there are sufficient staff.

  • rate this

    Comment number 212.

    My wife has been an NHS nurse for 10 years. When she first started she was responsible for 10 patients at any one time in a ward. By the time she left the wards last year (she now works in a cardiac cath lab) she had sole responsibility for over 20. Being caring and compassionate requires time that nurses often don't have any more. Many work overtime or through breaks to try and compensate.

  • rate this

    Comment number 211.

    Because of things I have heard and seen, I fear hospitals more than I fear disease.

  • Comment number 210.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 209.

    Though I sympathise with the view that nurses are too busy to be compassionate I think the real story is that caring,compassion and yes love for a fellow human being in suffering are qualities not in any way valued in the NHS.Recruitment is no doubt now based on how much someone knows and how good they are at multitasking and not whether they are a caring person.Reducing workload won't fix that.


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