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Practice comment

'Be bold and take action to improve the care we provide'


A nursing and midwifery career gives us incredible experiences and privileges.

We provide care, health promotion advice as well as treatment for ill health. We support the people in our care and their families when they are at their most vulnerable and when clinical expertise, care and compassion matter most. There is hardly an intervention, treatment or care programme in which we do not play a significant part.

Like many others, I started out in my career with one main aim - to help the people in my care. Back then, as now, I wanted to make a difference and to keep on improving my skills.

This commitment to improve and make a difference through the care we provide is the touchstone of our nursing midwifery and caregiving vision and strategy. At the heart are six areas that define nursing: care, compassion, courage, commitment, communications and competence. These 6 Cs are behaviours and values that encapsulate what we in the caring professions do.

Both Viv Bennett, director of nursing at the Department of Health, and I are passionate about this vision and strategy. It looks at how nurses, midwives and caregivers can be supported to provide excellent care. It examines ways to help us improve this care and take action when required. We need to make visions a reality, and we are committed to supporting staff to enable them to provide compassionate care.

An increased respect for our profession coupled with an increased pride in what we do is crucial. There have been too many stories about the lack of care, compassion and competence in the last few years. This is why it is vital for all of us to discuss, debate and share with one another how we can put patients at the heart of what we do. We need to show the public that we are committed to delivering care with knowledge, skill and compassion. We must be bold and take action to improve the care we provide.

We all have the opportunity to make a significant difference by ensuring the 6 Cs inform and influence everything we do.

Care sits at the heart of our profession. People have a right to quality care and expect it to be consistent day in and day out.

Compassion relates to the way we provide care and how patients see us. Our relationships should demonstrate empathy, kindness, respect and dignity.

Competence is having the knowledge, skills and capability to do our job to the highest possible standards.

Communication is vital in our role as active listeners with our patients, their support networks, our teams and our leaders.

Courage means we should always do the right thing, make the right decisions and speak up when we have good ideas.

Commitment will make our vision for the person receiving care, our teams and our profession happen. We need to commit to take action to achieve this.

Every decision we take has an impact on those we look after. Collectively if we work together and use the power we have we can really make a difference.

Jane Cummings is chief nursing officer, NHS Commissioning Board

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Readers' comments (14)

  • Anonymous | 5-Nov-2012 10:12 am

    I take your point. But I think that "we" do need to do something. Strike!

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  • Well said Redpaddy & Tinkerbell! I salute you for your very clear and insightful dissection of what is indeed, utter cobblers
    written by our somewhat deluded author.

    I for one will personally escort complaining relatives and patients to the offices of those who put ward nurses in this position and invite them to explain in person just what is going on and why they are not doing more to help.

    it will keep them out from under my feet whilst I am busy trying to do too much with too little!

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  • Florence

    I would love to take complaining relatives to our Matrons office. Or even higher up to explain why they wont act on our problems. And explain why they do turn a blind eye or blame ward nurses.
    I remember I had to deal with a relative who had some very serious complaints. Not all related to our ward and nursing care. But problems that had occured in a previous ward. There were issues relating to our poor staffing which compounded part of the problem on our ward.
    I spent about an hour on the phone sorting this out. When I fed back to our Band 7 Manager about the issues she was not interested. She said '' I dont really need to know I know you will have handled it well''.
    Was she joking ??? This is her ward and if I was a Band 7 I would want to know what was going on.
    Anyway my Manager ended up having to meet with this relatives and then complained that no one had alerted her how serious the issues were.
    That was nonsense. I was so glad that my actions & documentation proved I had done everything correctly. It was almost worth going off an hour and a half late for.
    Its always about passing the buck.

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  • Florence

    And as for striking. Ive always said I'd never do it.
    However Im very tempted to do so now.
    And yes Jane Cummings and other senior nurses DO need to come back to the wards. I loved Tinkerbells post from 4th Nov.
    I honestly have little faith in any managment above Matron level in our Trust.

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