Compassionate culture

30 January 2020
Winter 2020

It is not mere sentiment, says Rima Evans – compassion is a behaviour that can bring about significant improvements in treatment, optometrist wellbeing and business outcomes.

Compassionate leadership is currently stirring up much interest in the healthcare arena. The King’s Fund has recently focused research on compassionate leadership, recognising that command-and-control structures and “heroic” egotistical leadership aren’t serving NHS England particularly well. “To support staff and improve care, leadership at all levels needs to be collective, compassionate and inclusive,” it argues.

The King’s Fund’s 2017 briefing paper, Caring to change, explains why compassionate leaders are crucial for NHS England today. It’s a simple premise: they help nurture compassionate cultures. Not only does that reflect a core value the original NHS was founded upon, it’s an approach that supports staff wellbeing, enabling them to better look after patients.

The paper reports that compassionate leadership is the key ingredient to spark innovation, essential if health services are to cope with the increased pressures and demands they face, “a fundamental enabling factor that will create a culture of improvement and radical innovation across healthcare” (West et al, 2017).

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