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Nurses to be rated on compassion

Treating patients with compassion, reducing the number of falls and good handwashing are some of the indicators that could be used in a groundbreaking move to measure the quality of nursing care in the NHS, Health Secretary Alan Johnson announced today.

Alan Johnson will set out plans to develop a set of metrics that assess not only effectiveness and safety of nursing care, but also how compassionately care has been delivered.

Alan Johnson said: "Our nurses do a brilliant job, often delivering very intimate care. They know instinctively that a patient's understanding of quality in the NHS is about much more than excellent clinical care. The personal touch is so important too. Patients want to be kept well-informed by staff and treated with compassion and sensitivity.

"It is a wonderful reflection of the nursing profession that they want to do everything possible to improve the already high standards of care in the NHS. Measuring quality against indicators such as dignity, respect and communication will help them achieve this."

Dr Peter Carter, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: "Nurses across the UK work tirelessly to ensure that patients are treated with dignity, compassion and sensitivity, aspects of care which are so important but rarely measured."

As well as helping nurses improve the quality of care, patients will be able to use the information to make choices about where they are treated.

Department of Health

Should compassion be an indicator to measure the quality of nursing care? Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)

"Compassion cannot be measured on a 1-10 scale; however standards can be set and behaviour below the standard should not be acceptable. Therefore, as examples, standards on privacy and dignity, communication and record keeping can be benchmarked in relation to the essence of care ethos and then probably some way toward good care can be guaranteed." - Gloria Chambers, Bury Lancashire

"How can you measure compassion? Who ever measures it would need to know the diagnosis of the patient/s and that's not protecting their privacy or dignity. This is just another excuse for bureaucracy. 'Jobs for the boys'. All nurses should know that compassion is second nature." - Sue Malkin, Stoke-on-Trent

"Difficult to measure but surely an essential personal quality at entrance to training." - Jeanette Clark, Community

"I think it would be difficult to assess this but I think it is the basic skill required to be a good nurse and while academic abilities can improve clinical understanding they in no way can compensate for a compassionate nurse. Too often now in nursing academic status is the only thing that is given any recognition." - Hazel, Glasgow

"Compassion should not be judged, we do a job and hopefully do it well with respect for the client/patient. This is an appalling subjective judgement open to abuse by the people deciding who is and is not compassionate. Professional staff should offer a professional service, personal  judgements should not be part of wider assessment.  A nurse failing in this area should be supported to improve via supervision or appraisal. It is patronising to have an entire profession judged like this." - SW, Newcastle upon Tyne

"How do you measure compassion?" - Linda Taylor

"I became a nurse to care for sick people and those who could not care for themselves. Compassion should not be measured. As a nurse you should have it in abundance and if you don't have any you are in the wrong job." - Mark Boots, Westgate-on-Sea, Kent