One of the major criticisms of the new nursing strategy Compassion in Practice, aka the 6Cs, is that it’s too vague. People are concerned that it’s just words on a PowerPoint slide, with no real meaning behind them.
There was a fear that trusts would go off and interpret them individually, and that nursing would end up with nothing being spread from one organisation to another. The concern was we would arrive at something of a patchwork quilt of good ideas, as so often happens in the NHS - some duplicate work, some differing takes, some reinventions of the wheel.
But that’s not the case according to Jane Cummings, the chief nursing officer for England.
At last week’s Health Innovation Expo, she announced that there is detail behind the plans, and that she would be revealing exactly how all the elements will be rolled out.
The only way to improve standards in the profession is to listen to it, understand what has gone wrong from the nurse’s perspective and put this right
While unable to set out her vision fully until after the government has issued its response to the Francis report - expected next week - she did give some hints about its focus.
The safety thermometer, the cultural barometer and the connection between patient experience and staff experience all got a mention and are set to be part of the new plans to boost nursing.
I am delighted that someone is recognising the importance of happy staff. Nurses spend their time making sure their patients are content, comfortable and cared for. But the duties of the job and looking after really sick people takes its toll. Much has been written about emotional labour but, in some trusts, very little is done to identify and mitigate its effects on nurses.
Ms Cummings talked about the brilliant standard of care in organisations she had visited since taking up the post of CNO a year ago. But she also conceded that standards do vary.
Of course, some of that is down to poor practitioners. These exist in every profession. But far more is down to resourcing, lack of leadership and lack of competence. And a lack of compassion - or rather compassion that was once there but has been beaten out of nurses through years of being ignored or ridden roughshod over.
So the focus of the 6Cs is right. The only way to improve standards in the profession is to listen to it, understand what has gone wrong from the nurse’s perspective and put this right.
The years of make do and mend in nursing need to end. It is time to resource properly, listen carefully and act sensibly. Let’s hope that, with the response to Francis and the full version of 6Cs, we get all of that.
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Jenni Middleton, editor
email@example.com. Follow me on Twitter @nursingtimesed