Nurses in drive for 'compassionate care'


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

Related Stories

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.


More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 288.

    Many posts here have shared common denominators: they want nurse training, but not too much as that costs money, they want nurses to care, but only enough to offer food and drink, wipe bottoms and wipe tears from eyes, so training isn't really needed. They want staff to be compansionate, vocational and represent their patient's yet paid the minimal wage and not have a voice. What do they want?

  • rate this

    Comment number 287.

    D #259

    "It all went wrong when they started giving away nursing degrees like smarties. All the new nurses think they are like proper graduates and have an inflated view of their own ability and standing. They are not proper degrees.."

    Much as I disagree with nursing degrees, I would still rate one well above many of the degrees awarded these days, and even above a fair few from 20+ years ago.

  • rate this

    Comment number 286.

    I once had the misfortune to visit an online forum used by NHS staff, and see some of the vicious, hateful terms used to refer to the usual 'undeserving' suspects (immigrants, older folk, fat people, benefit claimants etc) when they thought they weren't being watched. It's made me want to never set foot in hospital again. Little tolerance in a country where bullying is now central to our culture.

  • rate this

    Comment number 285.

    I know nurses are busy, but having seen the standard of care my grandparents received in the later years of their life with failing health, it seems their is a broad range. The best was at a Community Hospital, the worst (BY FAR) at an elderly ward at the Bradford Royal Infirmary. Nursing used to be a vocation, the nurses at the BRI plainly showed to them it was nothing more than a job.

  • rate this

    Comment number 284.

    Compassion should be standard, but depends on resources as well. Enough properly trained and competent staff need to be available, both at the nursing level and above, that includes consultants who need to do more than just pop their head round the door. Doctors need to ensure their directions are clear and concise AND properly carried out. But NHS is not a dumping ground when families are there.

  • rate this

    Comment number 283.

    I am a NURSE and I am very proud to be a nurse. I work hard and I love my job. I trained as a nurse because I am a caring person and do actually want to help others. My Nursing council (NMC) recently reckoned it was ok for me to look after seven(7) elderly patients on my own with no consideration as to what was wrong with them,and how much personal care and dignified care each would need.

  • rate this

    Comment number 282.

    I trained in 1980. I was privileged to be one of the last to experience the most excellent State Registered Nurse training. We were taught an ethos founded on empathy and compassion, lost with subsequent nurse training. I have worked from then to this day with a strong principle that every patient should be treated as if they were my Pa,Ma,Grandparents,children..ME! My patients are all VIP.

  • rate this

    Comment number 281.

    Really paying attention to someone, listening, and being empathic is tiring, it can be very draining to energy levels. Compassion isn't 'free'. The more people on a ward, the higher the level of emotional labour nurses have to provide. There is no sign of this fact on any management target sheets. Until caring is recognised as a task, and valued, it won't be achieved in our hospitals or society.

  • rate this

    Comment number 280.

    I would be interested to know how many ppl posting on this HYS have personal experience of way it really is in hospital rather than their perceptions. If you want to see poor nursing in action, don't get yourself admitted to a hospital where the first 3 characters rhyme with "head" & the last 4 characters rhyme with "bored". You'll leave in a worse state than when you arrived!

  • rate this

    Comment number 279.

    The compassion is there but nurses workload is not helped by government funding cuts leading to fewer nurses.Time to show greater support for the carers so they have more time for those in greatest need.

  • rate this

    Comment number 278.

    Over the decades of NHS change, nurses we know have told us how it has got progressively more difficult to provide the overall care they think should be given.

    They say it's simply the shortage of time and priority targets being dictated by managers.

    Before "managers" ward sisters and nurses knew exactly who needed more care, mangers applying pressure don't.

  • rate this

    Comment number 277.


    "255. rhannay

    If you can't manage, perhaps you are in the wrong job..."

    A comment worthy of a party politician (of pretty much Any colour.)

    You would think that politicians might eventually get the idea that, if caring and compassionate nurses cannot manage the job, then something has gone badly wrong with the job, not with the nurses.

  • rate this

    Comment number 276.

    What tosh there is no panacea for this. Nurses are people too and have differing personalities but I have never experienced any that don`t care! Its not all about tea and sympathy, there is a place for tough love too!! I guess we willl now go too far the other way and soon be complaining that whilst our Nurses are lovely no one is getting cured!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 275.

    Nursing is all about compassion.

    The fact we are having to discuss compassion in the nursing profession says it all.

    Something as gone terribly wrong, and it's those in need of compassion that's suffering.

  • rate this

    Comment number 274.

    Reading some of these comments, anyone would think that nurses were the only people in the world to have to work hard. We all do. Get over yourselves, get on with your jobs and stop bleating on. And take a pay cut while you are at it - we could afford a few more staff if you all got paid a proper amount.

  • rate this

    Comment number 273.

    Changes in nursng are no different to changes in all walks of industry.

    Productivity is now the driver not quality and output/day will reign. Managers will watch productivity as they are also held accountable for that, before any measure of quality
    If not, somebody else will do a similar job cheaper and there's no open wallet policy anymore to fund the NHS.
    Get real guys

  • rate this

    Comment number 272.

    How insulting to suggest nurses need to be more compassionate. The nurses I have met have it in bucket loads.

    For the small number of ruhlessly uncaring nurses, get rid of them. The procedures are already in place to deal with poor performing staff

  • rate this

    Comment number 271.

    As a Consultant in a Hospital my thoughts are that there are just too few nurses on any ward, they dont have time to be compassionate when one is running round like a blue ***** fly. The introduction of untrained unregulated health care assistants is no substitute for nurses and I would bring back SENs who did the bulk of listening and caring and were trained and regulated and practical no degree

  • rate this

    Comment number 270.

    This is all very well; however:

    The last time I went to a hospital (to pick up my old mum from QA in Portsmouth), all the nurses were sitting behind a desk for chatting about the weekend, and husbands and boyfriends, for at least 5 minutes before they even acknowledged my presence. All the oldies on that ward were trying to help each other to water and the like!

  • rate this

    Comment number 269.

    I am not a nurse, nor do I personally know any. However, when I have been in hospital it always reinforces my opinion that the people that do choose this career path, do so not for financial reward, but because they are geniuinely caring people.
    The one thing that no bean counter or MP can seem to comprehend or factor into a spreadsheet or policy is a caring human nature -
    because it's priceless.


Page 19 of 33


More Health stories



BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.