Nurses in drive for 'compassionate care'

media captionJane Cummings, England's chief nursing officer: "Patients must be treated with compassion, respect and dignity"

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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