Thursday, 7 April 2011

Claire Rayner; Compassion in Nursing

I was interested to read that the late Claire Rayner OBE was concerned, as I have been, about the place of compassion in nursing care (see my post 'Do We Support Nurses to Care?' 22nd February.) During her life, Claire, a labour supporter (though latterly she joined the Lib Dems as a protest over Labour's plans for the NHS) was President of the Patients' Association, a member of the Prime Minister's Commission on Nursing and a patron of the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture

It has been recently announced that her family and the University of Huddersfield's Centre for Health and Social Care are co-operating to establish a new scholarship for doctoral research which makes a significant contribution to understanding how more compassionate care can be delivered by nurses and midwives. Although I expressed some misgivings about the effect the over-academicisation of nursing has had in discouraging those who are motivated primarily by practical compassion from going into the profession, I do welcome this development as one way to get compassion back onto the agenda. Perhaps the research will be able to point us in directions which will allow nurses to nurse in ways that heighten both their sense of vocation to show compassion and their patients' sense that care is given with compassion. Can research 'prove' that compassionate care is more healing than dispassionate, objectivised care, I wonder?  Claire, like Jo Brand, always seemed to blend great intelligence and humour with tough compassion. 

The inaugural scholarship has been awarded to Barbara Schofield, consultant nurse for older people in the Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Trust. She will study dignity and compassion in care. For further information, go to

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