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Does lack of compassion result from the 'draining' nature of nursing?

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4 February, 2013

It is difficult for nurses to remain “compassionate all the time” given the emotionally draining nature of the job, the chief nursing officer for England has told MPs.

NHS Commissioning Board CNO Jane Cummings gave evidence last week to the Commons health select committee on the state of nursing.

Along with Department of Health director of nursing Professor Viv Bennett, she fielded a broad range of questions from MPs on staffing levels, patient safety, use of technology and the “6Cs” nursing strategy.  

What do you think?

Readers' comments (6)

  • No-one can give continuously without occasionally receiving. In my experience, there is no compassion shown to nurses by the trusts they work for

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  • Working on a busy admissions ward it can sometimes be incredibly difficult to maintain a compassionate and caring attitude towards everyone all the time. Higher management do not always understand how the pressure to get people 'through the system' impacts on both nursing and medical staff and our ability to offer the best care. We try very hard, but it can be very difficult.

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  • It was recognised years ago that mental health nursing had an emotional consequence with the mental health officer status , which I received and needed to retire at 55 after 38 yrs mainly as as a Cpn , I loved my job but it was Draining , that lack of recognition has now gone . It always seemed strange to me that this recognition of the emotional consequences of care are never taken into account and should be for all nurses.
    Everything seems to go round in circles it is not Really surprising that these issues have arisen as no one has cared for the carers , it's not fair to blame the nurses , it is politics interfering that creates these problems , even so individuals have to recognise their own makes me feel so sad.

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  • Anonymous | 6-Feb-2013 4:39 pm, "Higher management do not always understand how the pressure to get people 'through the system' impacts on both nursing and medical staff and our ability to offer the best care." I think you have hit the nail on the head. It is not about the 'patient' anymore. It is a system they are processed through, like cattle to the slaughter house. I use that analogy, as cattle are shielded from their fate and the process that they are going through. Not to be confused with being led to their death.

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  • michael stone

    It is easy to rationalise how the nature of nursing can lead to 'some desentization' (or, you could regard this as 'mental protection for the nurse', even if subconscious) - but if nurses are always under time pressure, exhibiting 'compassionate behaviour' (in other words, behaving in a way that patients and relatives will perceive as displaying compassion) will clearly be harder as well.

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  • when you expect nurses to work at 110% for long periods just to rovide a minimum service they will experience compassion burnout.

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