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MAY 26/2014

Compassionate care: the new watchword for the NHS

Staff in NHS nursing jobs will soon see the introduction of new regulations and measures aimed at ensuring care is delivered to patients in a consistently personalised and respectful manner.

For people working in the medical profession, compassion and caring are absolutely essential character traits that will help them thrive in their jobs and address the needs and expectations of their patients. As such, the government is seeking to reform the current training system to put these values front and centre.

In doing so, it will be easier than ever to ensure anyone attending an NHS hospital is looked after in a way that makes them feel cared for and well-attended to as a person, rather than simply as a patient.

Reassessing the current nurse training system
This month, a major review of the nurse training system in England was kicked off by the Health Education England and the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), with the aim of investigating the education standards of the 60,000 nursing and midwifery students study in this country annually.

Led by Liberal Democrat peer Lord Willis of Knaresborough, the Shape of Caring Review - as detailed by the Health Service Journal last month - will also scrutinise the standard of post-registration training for NHS nurses who have already qualified and been registered by the NMC.

It comes at least in part as a response to the findings of the recent Francis Report, which highlighted the attitude, behaviour and compassion of NHS staff as holding the key to long-term improvement of standards, as well as the best way of ensuring major care quality failings can be avoided.

New system for assessing nurses' values
Subsequently, it was revealed that Health Education England is devising a values-based testing system for the specific purpose ensuring qualities such as respect and dignity are enshrined as essential job requirements.

To be introduced in March 2015, the test will underline the importance of values as well as skills and the need to treat patients with compassion and empathy. It will be implemented as a mandated element of training programmes funded by Health Education England's £5 billion budget.

Additionally, the government body will develop a values-based recruitment framework for organisations and universities offering NHS funded courses by October 2014, according to the mandate, while a toolkit will be created to support organisations in reviewing their current practices and aligning hiring processes with values laid out in the NHS constitution.

Driving better standards of care
According to the government, this will help to ensure compassionate care is considered a top priority by all NHS providers, while equipping the health workforce with all of the skills and personal qualities they will need to succeed and thrive.

Health minister Dan Poulter said: "Patients have the right to feel confident that they will be treated with dignity and respect.

"Compassionate care must be at the very heart of our NHS. This mandate will make sure that NHS employers only recruit health and care workers with the right skills and the necessary caring values to give patients, carers and their families the treatment they deserve."

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