New report examines the importance of compassion within the NHS

Yvonne Sawbridge (Health Services Management Centre) and Alistair Hewison (School of Nursing) were commissioned to complete an evaluation of a Compassion Recognition scheme implemented in several NHS trusts across the West Midlands.

One of the values identified in the NHS Constitution is that we ensure that compassion is central to the care we provide and respond with humanity and kindness to each person’s pain, distress, anxiety or need. We search for the things we can do, however small, to give comfort and relieve suffering. We find time for patients, their families and carers, as well as those we work alongside. We do not wait to be asked, because we care. Although the term compassion can be interpreted in different ways, it is often used to mean ‘good’ patient care.

With the aim of creating such environments of care, the Leading with Compassion programme was launched in Shropshire and Staffordshire in 2015. With support and sponsorship from Health Education England in the West Midlands, its purpose was to embed, recognise and research compassionate leadership. The Leading with Compassion recognition scheme is designed to acknowledge and reward compassionate acts witnessed ‘in the moment’. The process was designed to be straightforward, ‘user friendly’ and place no restrictions on who could nominate, or be nominated.

The report presents the findings of an evaluation project undertaken to capture the lessons learned from this innovation. It also makes a number of recommendations to inform the development of a Good Practice Guide which is being produced to support the roll out of the Scheme. 

Overall the scheme has been successful in terms of identifying how compassion is viewed, enacted and appreciated. Nominations continue to be made to the scheme, and the team have been shortlisted for the prestigious Healthcare People Management Awards to be held later this month. The HPMA is renowned as the professional voice of HR in healthcare, set up over 40 years ago, having over 4,000 members ranging from HR directors and deputy directors through to trusts and CCGs.

The Health Service Journal has also printed a short article summarising the scheme and some of the findings which is available here