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Relink education with practice to restore compassion to nursing

BMJ 2014; 348 doi: (Published 19 May 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g3310
  1. Ann Bradshaw, senior lecturer in adult nursing, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Oxford Brookes University, Jack Straw’s Lane, Marston, Oxford OX3 0FL
  1. aebradshaw{at}

Ann Bradshaw reflects on inconsistency between the Francis report and recommendations from the nursing profession, suggesting ways to restore nursing’s standing after the Mid Staffs inquiry

In 2011 an editorial in The BMJ with the title “We need to talk about nursing” commented on patients’ concerns about nursing in the UK. The problem was not just heartless nurses or a lack of resources. The unanswered question was “how the education, altruism, and professionalism of large groups of healthcare workers had been subverted into a dismissive attitude to those in greatest need.”1

Since then the Mid Staffordshire inquiry, chaired by Robert Francis QC, has reported.2 Although the report affirmed much high quality, committed, and compassionate nursing, it also found that there had been a decline in standards. There was a negative attitude among some nurses, and relatives who complained were seen as difficult. Degree level nursing had been at the expense of experience of the basic tasks that all nurses should be able and willing to do.

Providing caring, compassionate, sensitive, and thorough attention to the basic needs …

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