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Need for compassion highlighted
Nurses are to be judged on how compassionate they are towards patients under a new strategy to improve care within the health service.
Jane Cummings, chief nursing officer for England, will highlight the need for patients to be treated with compassion and respect by nurses, midwives and care staff.
In a speech later in Manchester, she will say that poor care is a "betrayal" of the values of the caring professions.
"Being a nurse, a midwife or a care worker is an extraordinary role," she will say. "We all came into these roles because we wanted to make a difference to the people we care for and support. We care for people in their own homes, in communities, hospices and in hospitals. We are proud to be part of a remarkable health and care service that does make a difference to people's lives each and every day.
"But the context for health care and support is changing. Most significantly, with people living longer, we have a greater number of older patients and people to support, many with multiple and complex needs. And 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. The actions we are setting out - developed with nurses, midwives and care staff - can change the way we work, transform the care of our patients and ensure we deliver a culture of compassionate care."
Her speech was released as the new three-year strategy Compassion in Practice was launched following an eight-week consultation involving more than 9,000 nurses, midwives, care staff and patients. Under the drive, recruitment, appraisal and training of staff will be based on values as well as technical skill.
The launch comes after a series of reports outlining concerns over poor care in the NHS including failures to provide clean and comfortable surroundings for patients and help with eating and drinking. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said last week that there was a "crisis in standards of care" in some hospitals and care homes.
Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: "Our members are working tirelessly and under a great deal of pressure to deliver the best possible care to patients and these values will support that work. For the vision to be successfully realised, it will need to be embraced not only by nursing staff but also by employers."
Diane Abbott, Labour's shadow public health minister, said: "We need to see a culture of compassion. But I fear that part of the growing health crisis is the fact that over 7,000 hospital nursing jobs have been axed since David Cameron entered Downing Street, with almost one thousand in the last month alone. This will be increasingly devastating to patient care."