Jane Cummings’ voicepiece

Compassion has been the word on everyone’s lips over the last few weeks. As you can imagine, most of my time has been taken up with the findings of the Robert Francis enquiry into what took place at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.

The report made extremely uncomfortable reading and I remain appalled that members of our profession could betray the trust placed in them by patients and their families. Compassion is a word that keeps coming up in the Francis report and it is clear we must now restore this value to its rightful place in our day-to-day work.

Our recently launched vision, ‘Compassion in Practice’, has resonated strongly with the public and those in the caring profession, inspired as it is by the 6Cs:

  • Care
  • Compassion
  • Competence
  • Communication
  • Courage
  • Commitment

In the overwhelming majority of cases, compassion comes naturally to people who have opted for a caring profession and in my 30 years working in the NHS I have seen this first hand every day. Those nurses who do not have the capacity to show this empathic quality have no place in the NHS.

To develop ‘Compassion in Practice’, colleagues and I met with more than 9,000 individuals to gather their opinions. Together with feedback gained through social media, this valuable information has helped us put the vision into practice.

There are a number of distinct aspects we would like to implement:

  • Compassionate behaviour should be part of the criteria when recruiting all student nurses and midwives.
  • More broadly, hospitals should be given the ability to identify the actions needed to reaffirm the importance of compassion in the workplace
  • Strong leadership is vital to the creation of a positive culture of care on wards and in communities. The NHS Leadership Academy has developed a new leadership programme for ward managers, team leaders and nursing directors, based upon the values and behaviours inspired by the 6Cs
  • Feedback and clear lines of communication. These are vital channels when raising concerns and can help deal with problems at an early stage. We are putting plans in place to ensure health employers aim for 90 percent coverage of all staff with their local appraisal system.

I am encouraged that we are talking about these subjects, it is the only way to address them and I am confident that by working together we can bring about changes consigning the terrible incidents at Mid-Staffordshire to history.

Jane Cummings

Chief Nursing Officer

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