Compassion: hard to define, impossible to mandate

Raymond Chadwick

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Since Robert Francis QC’s report of 2013 on the inquiry at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, the word “compassion” has taken on new significance. Its exact meaning may not be obvious, but clearly it’s a good thing, and we need more of it. Francis wrote that patients “must receive effective services from caring, compassionate and committed staff working within a common culture.”[1] In relation to training nurses he called for “an increased focus . . . on the practical requirements of delivering compassionate care.” This, he opined, would require aptitude tests for compassion during selection, training supported by national standards in “fundamental aspects of compassionate care,” and “leadership which constantly reinforces . . . standards of compassionate care.” So we now have “values based recruitment,”[2] an e-learning programme called Compassion in Practice,[3] and the “6 Cs”—care, compassion, competence, communication, courage, and commitment—as a vision for nurses, midwives, and care staff.[4]
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)-
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jul 2015


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