Health Education England has signed up to embedding the 6Cs in education and training, says Lisa Bayliss-Pratt
While I would be the first person to defend the reputation of the NHS, and rightly point to all those occasions when nursing care in particular, and wider healthcare in general, is first class - we know there are still too many times when we fail. Of course Mid Staffs has brought this into sharp focus most recently, but let’s not use that as an excuse for wider failings.
Too many things go wrong across the NHS every day, but simply admitting that is not nearly enough. We continue to fail those people who turn to us for help when they need it most if we don’t actively work to make things better and improve the quality of care we offer.
“I am committed to embedding the 6Cs from the moment young people begin to think about nursing as a career”
Health Education England has started its work in this area by signing up to the 6Cs in education and training: care; compassion; competence; communication; courage; and commitment. It is a pledge to drive improvement that I wholeheartedly support. We are ideally placed to play our part in the drive for better care throughout the NHS.
There are currently just under 160,000 people funded by the NHS in the education system. Every minute, £10,000 is spent on their education and training so we have every right to expect the 6Cs mentioned. In fact, if we fail to achieve a minimum of caring, compassion and competence, we’re clearly wasting that money. So I am going to focus on to the other three.
Communication: the NHS has one million face-to-face interactions with patients and the public every 36 hours. The ability to communicate includes having confidence in yourself - speaking like an ordinary person in ordinary language; it involves a lot of listening. We need to teach communications more.
Courage: you need to be brave to be a nurse. The things we see, the things we do, the patients we help and those we lose - the impact of these things on an individual is huge and requires courage. But that’s not nearly enough. Yes, we need to do our jobs but we need to do so much more - we need to stand up for our patients when things are wrong, to stand up to colleagues and to make a stand if that is in the best interests of our patients.
Too often people who should have known better have simply looked the other way. It has to stop. From day one of nurse education and training, we need to be absolutely clear about the right way to do things. Nurse leaders must find their own courage to support anyone acting in the best interests of patients.
Commitment: any nurses joining our education and training programmes will be committed to their course and to the service in which they will work after graduation. I want students to be clear that nursing is a priority for the NHS and it will be an exciting and fulfilling career - it should be a number-one choice, it doesn’t take second place to anything.
Before we spend thousands of pounds training people, we want to interview them and test their commitment. We are recruiting for values and we need to make sure it’s what they really want to do - that doesn’t happen in clearing.
I am confident a cooperative and collaborative approach between service and education providers will give us a future workforce that will not only deliver high-quality care, but will also be equipped to develop and deliver new and dynamic services for patients.
I am committed to embedding the 6Cs from the moment young people begin to think about nursing as a career and ensuring the next generations of nurses and their leaders don’t need to consider implementing their own version.
Lisa Bayliss-Pratt is director of nursing for Health Education England