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The NHS could learn much from Gandhi’s teaching

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 17 April 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f2411
  1. Narinder Kapur, professor and consultant neuropsychologist, University College London, London WC1E 7HJ, UK
  1. n.kapur{at}

Look to India’s preeminent leader, says Narinder Kapur, to inspire a compassionate NHS that treats its staff justly, without the dictatorial and secretive management culture that hampers excellence in patient care

“A fundamental culture change is needed,” concluded Francis’s report into the Mid Staffs scandal.1 “NHS urged to find its moral purpose,” was how the Times newspaper responded.2 But you need look no further than Mahatma Gandhi for ways to bring about a culture change and how to engender moral purpose.3 4 5

“The ideal doctor is one who acquires sufficient knowledge of medicine and makes that knowledge available to the public free of charge. He will obtain his livelihood by doing some common work or receiving what little the public give him,” wrote Gandhi in his health guide.6

“There should be an increased focus on a culture of compassion and caring,” noted Robert Francis in his report, and although he was referring to nursing his statement applies to all healthcare professionals. A sense of dedication, a motivation …

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