I would like to firstly say thank you to the NHS for the incredible work that they are currently doing. I therefore thought that it would be appropriate to look at the values which the NHS standby. These values have never come through more clearly than at the moment. There are six values for the NHS to ensure the best care to patients, set up by the NHS constitution (an organisation set up entirely to highlight key principles and values of the NHS), and I am going to look at each of the values, explaining what each one means.
The first is working together with patients. There is a huge amount of people that work together in the care of one patient: doctors, nurses, administrative teams, radiologists, the list goes on. This large web of communication should give confidence to the patient that they are in safe hands.
The second is respect and dignity. This means treating patients like they really count, and valuing each person as an individual, respecting their life, seeking to understand their needs and priorities. This should make the patient feel cared for, and in some ways special. Even if the doctor knows that the patient only has a few days to live, the patient should still be given the respect that they deserve, preparing all their treatment paths, like every other patient would have.
The third is commitment to quality of care. This means that in every treatment, quality is a must and striving to get the basics right every time is necessary: safety, confidentiality, professional and managerial integrity, accountability, dependable service and good communication. This also means always doing the best that you can for the patient.
The fourth is compassion. Compassion is a form of sympathy in the suffering of others, thus this value is about looking after a patient in pain, distress, anxiety or watching over every need in a kind way. It means searching for things, however small, to give comfort and relieve the suffering of a patient. It means finding time for patients and not waiting to be asked by a patient to care for them.
The fifth is improving lives. Striving to improve health and well-being and people’s experiences of the NHS is vital, valuing excellence and professionalism wherever we find it – in the everyday things that make people’s lives better as much as in clinical practice, service improvements and innovation. This may include adding changes to a patient who is in a wheelchair’s house so that they can be more independent.
The final value is everyone counts. Giving everyone the time that they deserve in order that they feel valued, like everyone else, no matter what their situation is. It means working for the benefit of the whole community, and making sure nobody is excluded or left behind. It means accepting that some people need more help, that difficult decisions have to be taken – and that when resources are wasted, so are others’ opportunities.
There are also seven guiding principles for the NHS:
- The NHS provides a comprehensive service, available to all, irrespective of gender, race, disability, age, sexual orientation, religion or belief. It has a duty to each and every individual that it serves and must respect their human rights.
- Access to NHS services is based on clinical need, not an individual’s ability to pay, their services are free of charge, except in limited circumstances sanctioned by Parliament.
- The NHS aspires to the highest standards of excellence and professionalism in every aspect of their service.
- The patient will be at the heart of everything the NHS does and the patients preferences must be reflected, with them consulted on all decisions regarding their care.
- The NHS works across organisational boundaries and in partnership with other organisations in the interest of patients, local communities and the wider population. The NHS is an integrated system of organisations and services bound together by the principles and values now reflected in the Constitution. The NHS is committed to working jointly with local authorities and a wide range of other private, public and third sector organisations at national and local level to provide and deliver improvements in health and well-being.
- The NHS is committed to providing best value for taxpayers’ money and the most effective, fair and sustainable use of finite resources. Public funds for healthcare will be devoted solely to the benefit of the people that the NHS serves.
- The NHS is accountable to the public, communities and patients that it serves. The system of responsibility and accountability for taking decisions in the NHS should be transparent and clear to the public, patients and staff. The Government will ensure that there is always a clear and up-to-date statement of NHS accountability for this purpose.
Here is a document from the GMC giving details on how a doctor should behave, and you can therefore infer what makes a good doctor. My personal list of values is:
- Honest (integrity)
- Compassionate, emphatic
- Good communicator
- Non-judgmental, inclusive, respectful
- Puts themselves on the same level as the patient.
I would lastly like to thank the NHS once more for the fabulous work that they are currently doing.