Department of Health and Social Care

Compassion and Care

The NHS needs to reinforce a positive and all-embracing culture shared by all front-line, managerial, regulatory and governmental staff.

Robert Francis, 2013.

For many patients, compassionate care and nursing makes all the difference.

The overwhelming majority of nurses and healthcare staff work incredibly hard to offer genuinely personal and compassionate care, and succeed in doing so – sometimes against the odds.

Safe, high quality, compassionate care must be at the heart of everything staff do, continually striving to improve, and speaking out if they witness suboptimal standards.

Real, effective staff engagement is absolutely essential for creating the positive culture of safe, compassionate care demanded by Robert Francis. Compassionate care must be at the centre of everything the NHS does.

Staff wellbeing is the foundation on which compassionate care must be built. It cannot be engineered in through initiatives when this necessary condition does not apply. Staff must be supported at all times to maintain a culture that is inclusive, patient focused and compassionate.

Putting in place a clear and well-functioning system of accountability in the NHS is also a critical condition for creating a culture of safe, compassionate care.

Important actions in this area include:

  • trusts will be liable if they have not been open with a patient – the NHS Litigations Authority will continue to make full payments on successful claims, but will have discretion to make the trust partly liable
  • the Care Quality Commission and NHS England will develop a dedicated hospital safety website for the public which will draw together up to date information on all the factors, for which robust data is available, that impact of the safety of care
  • there will be a new care certificate to ensure that healthcare assistants and social care support workers have the right fundamental training and skills in order to give personal care to patients and service users
  • NHS England has published guidance to commissioners, Transforming Participation in Health and Care, on involving patients and the public in decisions about their care and their services
  • by the end of the year, 96% of senior leaders and all ministers at the Department of Health will have gained frontline experience in health and care settings


Find out more: