Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Close

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Hunt puts compassion at heart of nurse education review

  • 37 Comments

Jeremy Hunt has indicated that compassion will be at the core of a national review of nursing education and training – leading some nurses to accuse him of missing the point on the issue.

As revealed by Nursing Times last week, a major review of pre- and post-registration training for nurses and midwives in England is to be carried out to improve standards of patient care.

The Shape of Caring review will be launched in May with a report expected early in 2015. Health Education England said it would look at improving education to “produce healthcare professionals of high calibre, who are able to meet the changing needs of patients and the broader population”.

“The NHS stands for compassionate care or it stands for nothing”

Jeremy Hunt

But the health secretary emphasised compassion and dignity as key focuses for the work when he subsequently announced the review via a story in the Daily Telegraph on 24 April.

Compassion is one of the key values – known as the “6Cs” – in the national nursing strategy for England. However, it has also become a political buzzword for Mr Hunt, who has referred to the theme frequently in his speeches on the NHS and nursing in particular.

He told the Telegraph: “The NHS stands for compassionate care or it stands for nothing – and we know that for many patients, compassionate nursing makes all the difference. The central lesson of the Francis report into the tragic events of Mid Staffs is the need to treat patients with respect and dignity.”

“Surprise, surprise, the spotlight will be on compassion”

Nurse blogger

However, Mr Hunt was criticised by a number nurses on social media site Twitter, who argued that insufficient resources and lack of staff were the real issues affecting whether nurses showed patients compassion and dignity.

Meanwhile, nursing blogger Grumbling Appendix stated: “Surprise, surprise, the spotlight will be on ‘compassion’ – even though there is no hard evidence that nurses as a group lack compassion and plenty of evidence that better educated nurses produce better patient outcomes.”

Royal College of Nursing chief executive and general secretary Peter Carter said: “The vast majority of nurses are highly caring and compassionate, upholding the traditions and values of profession, and putting patients first to provide the best possible care despite often difficult circumstances and overstretched resources.”

Peter Carter

He added: “Any drive to ensure the culture in all organisations in the NHS is one that puts patient care first is welcome. Nurse education and recruitment is just one aspect of this drive, along with strong leadership and the right numbers of staff in the right areas.”

The review will be led by Liberal Democrat peer Lord Willis of Knaresborough, who carried out a similar review for the RCN in 2012.

Lord Willis told the Telegraph the review would also focus on how to recruit older nurses. He said: “There has been an over-emphasis on 18 to 21-year-olds when actually what we need is more [of] a pathway for mature men and women with life experience, who can see nursing as a second career.”

  • 37 Comments

Readers' comments (37)

  • michael stone

    It isn't possible to separate 'compassion in practice' from 'are there enough staff available' - as with almost everything, the actual questions tend to hinge on finding the correct 'balance points'.

    I wrote almost as soon as the Francis report was out, and the goverment started talking constantly about 'nurses and compassion', that people needed to stop the goverment from side-lining the 'do nurses have enough time to 'display' their desire to be compassionate' issue.

    I'm not sure about this goverment's overall record on 'conmpassion' in a wider-than-NHS sense, anyway.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • what does hunt know about compassion...he hates nurses and the nhs

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • You can teach someone to measure a patients blood pressure or how to change a bed, but unfortunately you can't teach someone to be a nice, kind and compassionate person - that's in their nature.

    Thinking to myself the other day almost all of the nurses I'd want caring for me if I were unwell in hospital, don't have degrees - many don't yet have a diploma - yet their knowledge and skill is second none and they actually care about the patients in their charge.

    Almost every single nurse I work with (including myself) wouldn't meet the entry requirements to do their training I think that says a lot.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Given the choice of somebody highly educated with compassion or poorly educated with compassion to care for my loved one ... I am sure I am not alone in desiring the educated. Working for and achieving a degree does not make a nurse less compassionate... just better at her job i.e. understanding medications, spotting early signs of deterioration and saving patients from the doctors :)

    There is a fantastic role for uneducated nurses and they are called HCA's - The hospital would grind to a halt without there amazing care but I can assure you just because they are uneducated does NOT make them all compassionate.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • My comment on "It isn't possible to separate 'compassion in practice' from 'are there enough staff available' " is that this is just not true.
    There are some nurses who show compassion and kindness regardless of how many staff and how busy they are.
    For instance last year I was with my Dad who is 96 in A&E. He went in after collapsing and unable to move. He waited 3 hours for an ambulance and was lying on his one leg bent up for quite a time. He was on a trolley in A&E for a considerable time - until 1 nurse - just one who was frantically busy as was everyone else but noticed that Dad was moving around a lot as had quite a severe sciatic type pain in his leg. I had also been asking 5 different staff including two doctors for some pain relief for my father.
    Without telling us she had noticed his discomfort and arranged for a ward bed to be brought down for him to make him more comfortable.
    I didn't see her again as she rushed off to deal with another major case but I asked her name and rang up the Director of Nursing after to praise her action.

    In answer to the other comment which saddens me "almost all of the nurses I'd want caring for me if I were unwell in hospital, don't have degrees - many don't yet have a diploma - yet their knowledge and skill is second none and they actually care about the patients in their charge."
    I would like to reply to this nurse that he/she should be evidence based in their practice and should know that although greater knowledge doesn't give compassion the research clearly shows that mortality rates are better when nurses have a better knowledge based. That is why the whole of the UK took the decision to educate all nurses to degree level in 2012.
    I disagree also what you say about 'almost every single nurse I work with wouldn't meet the entry requirements.......... You are a registered nurse now and who knows what you could have achieved in the past if the degree was offered then. I worked with trade unions and the RCN and we have supported loads of health care support workers to attain their pre nursing learning in order to start on a nurse degree programme.
    Your attitude is very disappointing as all patients deserve the highest level of knowledge and skill from all nurses.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Different week, new spin from Mr Hunt. We're back to the narrative that poor care arises from nurses not caring enough. Last month, because it suited him, he said understaffing was the risk to care quality, and that nurses weren't worth a 1% pay rise because that would threaten the affordability of proper staffing levels.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I want to know where on earth this idea that compassion was lacking in nurse education came from. The Francis Report says it bases it on anecdotal evidence from a seminar, but nothing in the public record of that seminar seems to substantiate the claims. Have we really come this far on pure supposition?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Anonymous | 25-Apr-2014 1:14 pm

    You misunderstand: I'm talking about certificate RGN's and those of us who qualified with diplomas. I'm sorry, but those currently qualifying with BSc's may well be 'highly qualified' on paper, but are absolutely useless in practice.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Compassion in general is lacking in our society, so it is a scientific probability that we will have a slice of people without compassion entering nursing, medicine or any other profession in the Health sector.
    Mr Hunt will have to get together a number of scientists to see whether they can build an equipment to be able to scan the applicant to find out if they are compassionate or not before they can enter.
    I feel though that this whole compassion thingh is a copout to blame us nurses for not giving enought care when really we need more staff and better management of staff.
    On our ward most of the nurses give free care every day as we always leave the job later than paid for.
    Free labour with no thanks, who's talking about compassion?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • michael stone

    Anonymous | 25-Apr-2014 1:16 pm

    'Without telling us she had noticed his discomfort and arranged for a ward bed to be brought down for him to make him more comfortable.'

    If the nurse couldn't bring down the bed herself, and there had been nobody else available to bring it, how would the bed have arrived ?

    'I asked her name and rang up the Director of Nursing after to praise her action.' - well done.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Show 102050results per page

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.

Related Jobs