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 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 264.

    This is a story that could not happen 50 years ago,then a large number of nurses were not career people passing exams and working there way up the promotion ladder, this story would have been laughed of the page,so the clever people running the NHS are going to teach compassion,what we have are educated idiots,you are born with compassion and want to become a nurse,with or without exam results.

  • 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.

  • 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.


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