Last updated: March 26, 2013 9:17 am

UK seeks nurses with caring attitude

Moves that aim to give would-be nurses an “aptitude” for hands-on care will be announced by the government on Tuesday in its first response to the report into hundreds of unnecessary deaths at a Staffordshire hospital.

Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, will say students seeking funding for nursing degrees must work for up to a year as healthcare assistants or support workers, either as part of their degree or as a condition of receiving funding for their studies.

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If pilot projects are successful, ministers will look at extending the approach to allied health professionals, such as physiotherapists, but not doctors.

But Clare Gerada, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said the National Health Service reflected wider problems in society.

“The NHS reflects the prevailing culture . . . and the culture we’ve got at the moment is one of blame, greed and regulation instead of kindness, compassion and celebrating success,” she told the BBC on Tuesday morning.

She added that NHS staff felt undermined when they were constantly castigated by politicians and the media.

“Every single day we hear very negative things, we never celebrate the success of what actually happens, the 1m people who will be treated today, the vast, vast majority will be treated safely and kindly.”

In other moves intended to improve the quality of care, ministers will publish new minimum training standards and a code of conduct for health and adult social care support workers. The standards will embrace handling complaints, reporting errors, recognising poor nutrition and communicating effectively.

In his inquiry into up to 1,200 avoidable deaths at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust in the middle of the last decade, Robert Francis QC found failures at every level of the NHS. Patients went without food or drink and were left to languish in soiled beds as staff failed to display basic concern for their plight.

Mr Hunt said: “Frontline, hands-on caring experience and values need to be equal with academic training. These measures are about recruiting all staff with the right values and giving them the training they need to do their job properly, so that patients are treated with compassion.”

Additional reporting by Hannah Kuchler

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