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All NHS staff told to embrace nursing's '6Cs'

All NHS staff – not just nurses and midwives – have been told they must “embrace” the values of patient care set out in the national nursing strategy for England.

Known as the “6Cs”, the values are care, compassion, competence, communication, courage and commitment.

They are the centre point of the Compassion in Practice strategy unveiled earlier this month by NHS Commissioning Board chief nursing officer Jane Cummings and Department of Health director of nursing professor Viv Bennett.  

Latest operating instructions for the NHS, published today by the NHS Commissioning Board, state that “all staff” should comply with the 6Cs as well as nurses and midwives.  

The board’s first set of planning guidance – called Everyone Counts: Planning for Patients 2013-14 – will apply from April when the body takes over responsibility for the day-to-day running of the NHS from the Department of Health.

It said the national nursing strategy “sets out a new approach to improving our culture of compassionate care and in particular the actions necessary to maximise the role and expertise of nurses, midwives and care staff to deliver improved patient outcomes”.

But it added: “As well as nurses, midwives and care staff, we expect all staff, including doctors, managers and support staff to embrace these values.”

Applying the 6Cs beyond nursing staff was discussed at the CNO Conference in Manchester where the nursing strategy was unveiled. However, although supported by some, others at the conference argued that the idea might dilute the nursing strategy.

The commissioning board’s guidance also includes a new interpretation of the famous adage that the NHS should provide care “from the cradle to the grave”.

It states: “We all want to see the highest standards of care, from childbirth where women should have choice and personalised care through children’s services and adulthood to the end of people’s lives.”

Readers' comments (30)

  • michael stone

    The 'catch' with this one, hinges on the meaning of 'embrace' !

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  • what were these again? I need a reminder as I had forgotten them again by the time I read to the end of the article!!

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  • Joy Millar

    What are the 6 C's. I've never heard of them?

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  • If you develop a acronym 6Cs you've then got to somehow have to populate it. So the word courage begins with the letter C so lets stick it in, and yet has little to do with the rest of the words. care & compassion competence gets my vote & its good to talk so communication is up there. And as alot of us should be commited (;-)) commitment is certainly essential. Spin seems to ripe within the NHS and its certainly a catchy media ready acronym which no doubt be dragged up on a regular basis by the media when certain ones are perceived to fail it. Having worked for nearly 40 years in the NHS it never ceases to amaze me how we are continually patronized by the latest catchy phrase as if these are principles that never existed or we've never thought to apply these fundemental aspects of care. Of course its always the high profile cases that imply the care in the NHS is positively Dickensian, whilst the majority endeavour to continue to provide high quality care in an NHS thats being changed into a market place with AQP encouraging a competitive basis for providing care. How much will the 6Cs be adopted when more likely it'll be based on Cost, Credit, Cheap,Covert,Cuts & Can't

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  • Courage is fundamental in ensuring we advocate on behalf of our patients and their families.

    Courage is the element which compounds the other elements......without courage how do we challenge poor practice within our peer group or mdt treatment/care prescriptions.

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  • tinkerbell

    Anonymous | 18-Dec-2012 3:08 pm

    Well said. Sick to back teeth of all this lipservice when we all know nursing haws reached a dead end at the moment with all these cuts to service and staff.

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  • Dear NT, it would be nice if you could add a like or dislike/ thumbs up / thumbs down facility for us to express our views on comments left

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  • could we not have some of the 'c's to stand for actually checking to confirm compliance - all too often it is tick box exercise. Management is asked 'are you compliant?' and they produce data indicating so........but so often it is a superficial exercise lacking any rigour

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  • courage is what you need to stand up to these beauracrats who continually patronise nurses. I wouldnt have been in this profession for 35 years if I hadnt followed the 6 CS.

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  • 'Change' ?


    Consistency and Continuity of Care?

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  • Why did they hit on 'C'? Another letter of the alphabet may have thrown up an equally relevant list of nouns to describe the ideal attributes they consider nurses should possess. I wonder whether they spent their time going through each letter in turn to see what they could come up with - an interesting exercise, n'est pas ?

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  • Well the management in our trust are really going to struggle with embracing "competence", actually I think they will have serious issues with "communication" too.....

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  • Well said Sarah Kendall. Many of the nurses working in the community in my organisation are so stressed and regularly upset because they are under so much pressure - to see more pateints than ever, discharged early with often challenging and always complex needs, and much more paperwork to complete. And why are they so upset - because they don't feel they are doing a "proper" job and can't be as caring as they would want to be.
    So, Jane Cummings we don't need lessons on how to be compassionate but we need the time to do more than just the task in hand!

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  • Ellen Watters

    This makes me laugh, and not in a funny ha ha way.. 6 Cs..Jeezo.

    It doesn't matter what letter of the alphabet you pluck out and make a catchy (NOT) list of qualities you would love health care professionals to have.

    What matters is recognising and rewarding good care, sharing good practice, instilling this into students and not accepting anything less..

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  • I hear there's a management version too:


    Merry Christmas!!

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  • tinkerbell

    In the words of the old song

    A you're adorable
    B You're so beautiful
    C you're a cutie full of charms.
    D you're a darling and
    E you're exciting and
    F you're a feather in my arms.
    G you look good to me
    H you're so heavenly
    I you're the one I idolize
    J we're like Jack and Jill
    K you're so kissable
    L you're the love light in my eyes.

    M, N, O, P, I could go on all day
    Q, R, S, T, alphabetically speaking, You're OK!

    U make my life complete
    V means you're very sweet
    W, W, Y, Z

    Oh, I love to wander through
    The alphabet with you
    To tell you what you mean to me!

    I guess they got stuck on C as Compassion/caring is a fundamental requirement and then just couldn't think outside the box.

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  • I just love the way the comments on this site just epitomise the compassion in nursing.

    The way we care and support one another is amazing.

    No wonder we have so many issues in how we care for patients and the public, we can't even care for ourselves or each other.

    Merry Christmas and may 2013 teach us all a lesson in compassion within our profession.

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  • maybe one of our new year resolutions for 2013 for the profession should be:


    = Care and Compassion for Colleagues

    then maybe the rest would just follow more easily

    maybe it could be used as our slogan and in logos or we could even issue 'C'redit 'C'ards with this on them as a reminder and send the bill to the DH or our NHS managers for their production.
    This should work well considering the General Management model is more successful in managing the manufacture and processing of goods than to trying to manage people such as patients and their healthcare and the staff engaged to carry this out.

    I love it you can just waffle on and on on a computer and write any old stuff and nonsense. In 2013 I will endeavour to exercise more 'C'ontrol! In the meantime 'C'ondolences to those who bother to read it!

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  • 'C'hristmas 'C'heer to all 'C'olleagues

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  • embrace the six 'C's with a stranglehold most likely! whoa ha, ha, haw, haw, hey what!

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