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NHS England to rollout '6Cs' nursing values to all health service staff

  • 44 Comments

Hospital porters, caterers, doctors and trust chief executives will be asked to embrace the “6Cs,” under plans to extend the set of core nursing values to all staff working in the NHS in England, Nursing Times can reveal.

The principles, which form the bedrock of the Compassion in Practice national nursing strategy, are to be rolled out to everyone in the NHS from July, one of England’s most senior nurses has told Nursing Times.

NHS England said the move was in response to demand from other professions, and came on the back of the “phenomenal success” of the initiative within nursing.

“Nurses have shown real leadership”

Juliet Beal

The 6Cs – care, compassion, courage, communication, commitment and competence – are a central plank of Compassion in Practice, which was drawn up by NHS England chief nursing officer Jane Cummings and launched in December 2012.

“In the last 15 months or so the 6Cs and those values and behaviours have started to inspire other professions across the NHS – and not just clinical professions,” said Juliet Beal, NHS England’s director of nursing: quality improvement and care.

Juliet Beal

Juliet Beal

“The rollout is for everybody who works in the NHS, from a ward clerk or porter to frontline staff, consultants and chief executives. It really is aimed at everyone.”

She said nurses and midwives should be “incredibly proud” to be at the forefront of what she described as an “amazing social movement”.

“Nurses have shown real leadership,” she said. “And that’s not about the central team that has been working on it, but nurses and midwives on the ground, at the frontline, who have inspired others.”

Ms Beal said there had been a “huge amount of interest” in the 6Cs and she and her colleagues had already given presentations across the country to diverse groups, including healthcare scientists, hospital caterers, allied health professions, doctors, and chief executives.

“Nurses and midwives often ask why doesn’t this apply to doctors and allied health professions”

Juliet Beal

She said applying the values to the whole of the service was about “creating the right culture to provide really excellent care”. “Even if you’re working in finance you still need a set of values for working in that care setting,” Ms Beal added.

Questioned whether she feared that extending the initiative to all NHS workers would remove ownership of the scheme from nurses, and risked diluting the message, she said: “I don’t think that is a risk.

“The 6Cs are well embedded and often nurses and midwives ask ‘Why doesn’t this apply to doctors, allied health professions?’. They think the same values and behaviours should apply to all people across the NHS,” she said. “That’s the feeling I have got.”

Ms Beal said a key to the nursing strategy’s success was that its six core values had been underpinned by a framework setting out various action points at local and national level, which were backed by the Department of Health, Public Health England, Health Education England, regulators, employers and nursing unions.

This includes commitments specific to nursing, which cover staffing levels, support for nurses, leadership within the profession and ways to measure and monitor quality care.

Ms Beal said that, while the 6Cs would stay the same, the support framework may well be different for different professions.

“People will need to develop those values in a way that’s relevant to the place they work in,” she said. “It’s not something we’re going to be imposing on people to do in a certain way.”

The national rollout will begin with an event in London on 4 July, which will be called The 6Cs for Everyone – Let’s Start the Conversation. This will be followed by four regional events.

“The most important thing is for everybody to get engaged in this”

Juliet Beal

Ms Beal said her team at NHS England was working closely with the NHS Clinical Leaders Network – a national network for practicing clinicians in England – to look at ways of engaging different healthcare professions. Meanwhile, the 6Cs Live! website will be developed to make it relevant to other staff groups.

Ms Beal said nurses and midwives would be key in spreading the word about the 6Cs to other staffing groups. “They can start to get other professions involved in what they’re doing at ward level and trust level,” she said.

“The most important thing is for everybody to get engaged in this, talk about it locally in team meetings, and in particular in multi-disciplinary teams in trusts or clinical commissioning groups,” she told Nursing Times.

  • 44 Comments

Readers' comments (44)

  • Anonymous | 24-Apr-2014 2:02 pm


    totally agree.

    as this tragically does not always appear to be the case the poster above will illustrate to patients what they should expect and point out where there is a shortfall.

    what happens to the whistle blowers will they also be free to point out where one or more of these attributes is absent? After all there is little point in displaying them written in words for all to see if they continue to be silenced. Time will tell!

    Nice colours, clear words, clear picture but one would hope they are also implicit and go well beyond the mere writing on the wall!

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  • Anonymous | 24-Apr-2014 2:02 pm


    totally agree.

    as this tragically does not always appear to be the case the poster above will illustrate to patients what they should expect and point out where there is a shortfall.

    what happens to the whistle blowers will they also be free to point out where one or more of these attributes is absent? After all there is little point in displaying them written in words for all to see if they continue to be silenced. Time will tell!

    Nice colours, clear words, clear picture but one would hope they are also implicit and go well beyond the mere writing on the wall!

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  • What a waste of time and resources. Any why is it being "rolled out", by the way? Has it got wheels? Is it a carpet?

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  • No 7 CLEAN hands before any procedure!!

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  • How about rolling out an environment where the 6 'C' are more likely to emerge?

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  • When hospital managers are behaving like 19th century mill owners, forcing there staff to work 14 hour shifts, regularly without breaks, food or an adequate fluid intake, do they suppose the impact on patient care will be a positive one? Just asking?

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  • The 6c's are the definition of 'a nurse'. They are what we have always done and will always do if we are any good at our job. I was recently asked to discuss 2 of them in an interview. You cannot separate them out. To have them spelt out in this way is insulting to nurses who know their job. If you are a nurse and not doing these things then you may as well find another job.

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  • Anonymous | 24-Apr-2014 8:53 pm

    urgently show your managers the the NICE guidelines and the recent articles in the press, DT and NT for example, on recognizing the signs and the prevention of AKI! Unfortunately it may not apply just to patients.

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  • There only needs to be one set of Values and standards (V&S). It is vital that they are known to the public as they will be the only judge of success or otherwise. V&S are at the core of any self respecting profession. What is the penalty for failing to live up to them?

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  • surely there is significant pride in being a member of a profession and the very great achievement of qualifying as a nurse. if one cannot uphold the professional values and standards, apart from being a high risk to patients, colleagues, employers and the public, a poor example, surely one is letting the profession and oneself very badly down.

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