‘Some nurses lack compassion and ability’

Some nurses working in the NHS don’t even want to be in the job, or they don’t have the ability to do the job properly or they lack the compassion needed to understand what it means to work with vulnerable people who look to them for care and support, according to a report by the NHS Future Forum.

Set up by the coalition to look into problems in the NHS, the independent advisory panel said there were “huge variations” in the standards of education and training for nurses and midwives. At the same time, managers aren’t acting on poor standards of nursing in hospitals.

The report said: “Selection in nursing was a particular issue, with a sense that the focus has moved away from selecting students on their ability, capacity for compassion and caring and desire to work in nursing. This has led, in some cases, to significant dropout rates and issues with basic skills such as numeracy.”

Future Forum chair Professor Steve Field said: “We are making robust and ambitious recommendations to the NHS and to government. We have heard an enormous amount of support for the shift to patient-centred care but also frustration that this has not yet been achieved. This must now become a reality for patients across England and health and social care professionals must lead the way.”

The report said that integration should be defined around the patient, not the system – and outcomes, incentives and system rules (ie competition and choice) need to be aligned accordingly. Quality must be at the heart of education and training with systems in place at all levels to reward high quality education and embed continuing professional development.

At the same time, the NHS must do more to prevent poor health, so it can reduce health inequalities and continue to provide high quality care for future generations. Every healthcare professional should make every contact count, using every contact with the public to help them improve their health.

For its part, the government has accepted the Future Forum’s recommendations. Specifically, the coalition wants employers and professionals to have a greater say in developing the health workforce in the future, such as through local plans. And for the first time the government will introduce an outcomes framework for education and training.

Also, on integrated care, the government said that patient experience of integrated care will be measured as part of the Outcomes Framework for the first time.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said: “As we modernise the health and care system to meet the challenges of the future, it is essential the thoughts of clinicians and, importantly, patients, are listened to. So the NHS Future Forum has again provided invaluable feedback on what the NHS needs to do to improve results and put the NHS truly on the side of patients. I’m pleased to accept all its recommendations.”