Disbelief as nurses have to be told to put patients first: staff reminded to treat sick with love and compassion
Poor care is a 'betrayal of what we stand for', says nursing chief

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said that 'coldness, resentment,
indifference, even contempt' were deep-seated in parts of the NHS



01:54 GMT, 5 December 2012

Nurses are having to be told to ‘put their patients first’.

They are being reminded in guidelines to treat the sick with care, compassion – and ensure they properly communicate.

The recommendations have been drawn up by the country’s top nurse who admitted there were pockets of ‘very poor care’ within the Health Service. But campaigners said it was ‘extraordinary’ that nurses were having to be told how to properly look after patients.

(File picture) Nurses will be rated on their compassion and not just their technical skills, according to their professional chief

(File picture) Nurses will be rated on their compassion and not just their technical skills, according to their professional chief

Listen, up doc: Empathy raises patients' tolerance of pain

A doctor-patient relationship built on trust and empathy doesn't just put patients at ease – it actually changes the brain's response to stress and increases pain tolerance, according to new findings from a Michigan State University research team.

The small study involved randomly assigning patients to one of two types of interview with a doctor before undergoing an MRI scan.

In the patient-centered approach, doctors addressed any concerns participants had about the procedure and asked open-ended questions allowing them to talk freely about their lives. The other patients were asked only specific questions about clinical information.

The brain scans revealed those who had the patient-centred interview showed less activity in this region when they were looking at a photo of the interviewing doctor than when the doctor in the photo was unknown. Those participants also self-reported less pain when the photos showed the known doctor.

Lead researcher Issidoros Sarinopoulos, said: 'This is a good first step that puts some scientific weight behind the case for empathizing with patients, getting to know them and building trust.'

Last week the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, warned that cruelty and neglect had become normal in some hospitals and care homes.

His comments were made after a damning report by the Care Quality Commission found that 10 per cent of hospitals and 15 per cent of care homes weren’t treating patients with respect.

The guidelines, drawn up by chief nursing officer Jane Cummings, tell nurses to focus on the ‘six Cs’ – compassion, care, competence, communication, courage and commitment.

Mrs Cummings said: ‘It’s putting patients first which is the key thing.

‘This is not about beating nurses over the head and saying you have to do more or we’re going to sack you.

‘This is about changing the culture of the organisations that provide care to hundreds of thousands of patients every day.

‘It’s about looking at the culture in which we work and having the values and way of working that really drives improvements and puts patients at the heart of what we do.’

Earlier, giving a speech in Manchester, Mrs Cummings said: ‘While the health, care and support system provides a good – often excellent – service, this is not universal.

‘There is poor care, sometimes very poor. Such poor care is a betrayal of what we all stand for.’
Joyce Robins, of Patient Concern, said: ‘I think it’s extraordinary that such guidelines are even necessary.

‘You’d think that nurses go into nursing because they are caring and compassionate. But sadly that doesn’t always seem to be the way.’

Meanwhile hospital managers will be made to apologise to patients if they fail to admit their mistakes. Health minister Dr Dan Poulter said NHS trusts which didn’t own up to errors to patients or relatives would be referred to the CQC.