News-Are manners and respect a thing of the past on NHS wards? Asks the Sunday Post.

More than 30 complaints are lodged about the unacceptable manner of hospital staff every week, The Sunday Post has learned.

The Sunday Post further reported:

A WINNING bedside manner used to be the mark of a good doctor.

But it seems the days of a carefully-warmed stethoscope and a smile have been confined to the history books.

New findings have shown patients are increasingly becoming fed up with “rude” NHS staff.

Doctors, nurses and auxiliaries have all been the subject of investigations into their dealings with members of the public over the past three years.

Details of the grievances come just months after Scotland’s chief nurse appeared to accuse colleagues of being rude, grudging and unfriendly.

Professor Fiona McQueen claimed she had witnessed nurses humiliating patients and called on them to put the sick first at all times. The government-appointed figurehead was forced to apologise for the comments after a backlash from unions.

Patients’ groups have warned staff rudeness and a basic lack of compassion is a significant problem in our hospitals.

However, health bosses have said the number of complaints is small compared with the huge number of patient interactions taking place every day.

And union leaders have defended the issue pointing out that stresses, such as burgeoning workloads and increasingly demanding patients, are taking a toll on hard-worked frontline staff.

Margaret Watt, chair of Scotland Patients Association, said dipping standards could set patients back.

“We’ve had a lot of people complaining to us about the attitude and behaviour of staff over the years,” she said. “These patients are ill and a bit of compassion will help them heal more quickly.”

In total the NHS received 4,800 complaints about the attitude and behaviour of staff between 2013 and 2015.

Consultants, doctors, nurses, administrative staff, GPs, nurses and “allied health professionals” were among those on the receiving end.

Top of the table of NHS boards with most complaints is Greater Glasgow and Clyde. It received 329 complaints in 2013, 410 the following year and 424 last year.

Next was Tayside with a total of 808 over the three-year period, followed by Forth Valley on 478, and Lanarkshire on 439.

Eight NHS health boards, including Ayrshire and Arran, Borders, and Dumfries and Galloway, have seen complaints about staff behaviour and attitude rise between 2013 and 2015. Many also provided details about the allegations made against staff. Examples included doctors and nurses calling patients inappropriate names, and being rude.

Some were accused of being confrontational, insensitive and threatening. A number of patients also claimed they had been subjected to verbal abuse, rough handling, had been rushed or shown a lack of support. Many said they had simply not received an apology when they felt they had been treated badly.

It is the first time national figures have been compiled about staff behaviour since a report last year concluded that “basic compassion” had been lost from hospital wards.

The research – carried out by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges in Scotland – warned that some NHS bosses were prioritising treatment time targets over patients. Senior doctors in Scotland have called on the Scottish Government to move away from a target-driven culture to focus on quality of care.

Indeed, leading medics claim there has been too much of a focus on inappropriate targets over patient care in recent years.


Three years ago NHS inspectors warned that hospital staff in Scotland were not always treating older patients with compassion.

A separate study, carried out in England in 2011, revealed doctors and nurses with a good manner could play a part in shortening the length of patient hospital stays and improve patients’ health.

A spokesperson for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said it had undertaken work to “give frontline staff the tools required to help diffuse a situation.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said the complaints related to a small proportion of NHS activity, adding boards should be “completely open and learn the right lessons”.

Original source:

Seeing another’s world, feeling, demonstrating and managing empathy is imperative to communication and how it makes others feel. Emotional awareness helps understand how we feel.

For related courses see below:

Using Empathy to Help Resolve Complaints

Using Empathy Effectively to Aid Communication

Using Empathy to Handle Difficult Conversations in End of Life Care

For bespoke Empathy courses to fit your needs please email me on 

See feedback here

See testimonials here

Read about C&C Empathy Training here




News-“Parents’ perspective of what happened is critical to understanding how care can be improved”

“Parents’ perspective of what happened is critical to understanding how care can be improved, and they must be given the opportunity to be involved, with open, respectful and sensitive support provided throughout,” said Judith Abela, acting chief executive at Sands, the stillbirth and neonatal death charity.

She went on to say that: ” a more effective review process involving parents” is needed.

Her comments come after a review into how the NHS investigate deaths babies who die or are severely brain damaged during labour.  – BBC News

The warning by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists comes as it publishes its preliminary report into how problems during labour are investigated.

More than 900 cases have been referred to the programme.

Of the 204 investigations reviewed, 27% were found to be of poor quality.

The review has also been looking at the number of cases where parents have been involved in the investigations – nearly three-quarters of the 599 reviewed did not involve them in any meaningful way.

Ministers said the findings were “unacceptable”. The final report is due in 2017.

Prof Alan Cameron, vice-president of the RCOG and a consultant obstetrician in Glasgow, said: “When the outcome for parents is the devastating loss of a baby or a baby born with a severe brain injury, there can be little justification for the poor quality of reviews found.

“The emotional cost of these events is immeasurable, and each case of disability costs the NHS around £7m in compensation to pay for the complex, lifelong support these children need.”

Health Minister Ben Gummer said the findings were “unacceptable”.

“We expect the NHS to review and learn from every tragic case, which is why we are investing in a new system to support staff to do this and help ensure far fewer families have to go through this heartache,” he said.

My thoughts:

For those who read my blogs or news items I am covering regularly, you will know that I too have been through the NHS complaints complaints system following the death of a child and having already studied counselling, I had to use these skills to understand and manage the immense torment and harsh reality of the raising a complaint. The psychological well-being of the person grieving and indeed the staff, is so often not given any credence. Little support through training in how to support a person grieving and be able to empathically extract all the vital emotional data that can be made available from those grieving. Listening to subtle cues that can give you immense information.

Loss and bereavement was my specialist subject in counselling and then having to go through the process of life changing grief, grief that has the potential to rip your world to shreds, drives my passion to train staff within complaints with thought provoking, real, insightful, and psychologically based training, putting psychological well being at the heart of communication training and practice.

My heart goes out to all those parents whose child has lost their life or been brain damaged and their life made more difficult though systems that are not always equipped to support and investigate well.

My heart actually goes out too to the complaints staff, often with little or no training on empathy, counselling and grief. And to the clinicians who need support to evaluate and understand their own feelings of fear, sadness and the multitude of emotions that they will have to manage.

Original source:

Related course to address the point raised in this article:

Using Empathy to Help Resolve Complaints

Email me with any enquiries:

Blog – Our One Truth in Business – the importance and challenges of empathy

Having the courage to stay with someone’s distress long enough, has a powerful effect: it validates their experience. But more than that, it validates their feelings, their life, their truth.

And this one truth as I see it, has guided my and business partner Vanessa’s lives for as long as we can remember.

From me it is staying with the distress of a 4 year old girl as she grieved for her mum (my friend). To staying with that same child’s distress when she herself ended up in hospital 11 years later aged 15. To then needing so very much for people to stay with my distress as I grieved when this girl, who by then was a daughter to me, tragically lost her own life.

Vanessa had to stay with patients’ and loved ones’ distress as a nurse, in particularly in intensive care. She knew that the key to handling difficult conversations was engaging sufficiently to hear, and I mean really hear, all that was being said, no matter how subtle the cues were to how someone was feeling and what they needed.  This ‘truth’, as I see it, has been an intrinsic and important part of our experiences and now guides our business. So whilst we are still in our first year of trading, this particular training business of ours, indeed our passion and purpose, has in fact been in gestation for many, many years. It is now out of our heads, on paper and being disseminated to promote staff wellbeing, good patient experience and communication with care.

What we believe:

As a company, we believe in the power of empathy, of evoking and listening to emotions, in understanding, and in responding to empathy. We believe in the power of emotional development and how these processes in communication help to prevent prolonged psychological harm (a requirement now statuary in the Duty of Candour, but given little guidance as to how this is met), and which when not achieved can create a powerfully negative experience.

What we don’t believe:

We don’t believe in perfection or in ‘magic words’ in communication. We don’t believe that challenging or facing difficult emotional situations is easy. In fact it dehumanizes professionals by denying them the real emotional impact which is often a part of highly emotional and challenging work. We expect them to show compassion and human connection but so often deny them the training and support to enable them to feel human themselves. Our thoughts and emotions, difficult or otherwise feed into our behaviours, actions, colour our experiences and affect our outcomes.


The communication button:

Always finding communication easy suggests that we are always operating on the same constant level and that stress, anxiety, joy, happiness and grief do not exist or affect us. But of course they do exist and have the ability to affect us greatly, both consciously and unconsciously. Patients and loved ones are often out of their comfort zones too or frightened in health and social care communication. We do not, however press a ‘communication button’ on or off but are communicating all the time. Our work therefore, drawing on my practice as a counsellor and service user of the NHS complaints system and Vanessa’s as a nurse and psychology teacher, is to support health and social care professionals through our LEED Communications Programme ® to explore openly, honestly, and transparently the role that empathy and emotional development has in how we communicate.

Through conference speaking and our four core training courses in communication, complaints, end of life and mindfulness, we help professionals to: understand and minimize conflict; understand emotional motivations; understand the science behind how we interact; understand how we experience and manage difficult conversations and; finally how we look after our own emotional wellbeing.

How do we do this? … Well, although embedded in science, counselling skills and research, we, as trainers, emulate openness, honesty and transparency. We create a safe environment where honesty is a prerequisite and it starts with us.

Research has long shown that stories help us to develop empathy, seeing another’s world in ways that you don’t always get access to. Isn’t that why we laugh, cry, turn our face away and feel scared watching films? Our empathy is being evoked, our responses are not always sympathetic, but we are tapping into another’s emotions.

Using our own stories (narratives), which are emotive to say the least, gives those who attend our training, or sit listening to me at a conference, permission to feel their humanity; their own feelings and emotions. To not expect perfection of themselves, because they are, at the end of the day, human health and social care professionals, not computers (and let’s face it computers crash and are far from perfect too). Time and again the faces of those listening and engaging in our training approach, show almost relief; not having to expect themselves to easily conquer fearful and difficult feelings; not feeling a failure if they are struggling.

Neither however are they encouraged to ignore these feelings, far from it. We encourage and support them to be aware of the deeper levels of communication that are present in themselves and others, reactions and feelings which can unconsciously affect their behaviours, actions and results. We support people to stay in an enquiring mind and consciousness, to listen to others and to listen to themselves. And we support people to believe in what they feel is right, knowing the possible impact of not doing this, but not feeling like they are never expected to struggle with the processes.

We believe that embedding empathy and emotional development at organisational culture level has a positive impact on work force wellbeing and outcomes for the patients, so we have an Empathy Envoy Register © for individuals and organisations to join to show support for this. We at C&C Empathy Training wish to showcase good empathic practice brought to our attention.

Having won the Open University New Business Award in 2015, we are obviously very proud of the work we do. But more than that, both Vanessa and I are doing what we believe in and have for many years. We are proud to work with a dedicated workforce. We are proud to be highlighting the patient and loved one’s perspectives and emotions within complaints and communications. Most of all though, we are proud of our ‘truth’.

Published as guest blog for FoNS 7 June 2015

See our courses here

Read testimonials here

Find out ore about us here

Contact me on

Blog – WIN a FREE place at one of our June or July courses

keep-calm-and-enter-our-competition-7We are giving you or a staff member the chance to win a free place at our:

Using Empathy to Help Resolve Complaints

Worth £250

23 June Sheffield OR 14th July Milton Keynes

Here’s what you need to do………………….

#1   Go onto our website and click on the ‘training’ tab

#2   Find our ‘Using Empathy to Help Resolve Complaints ‘ brochure and click on it

#3    Find the word/phrase that you think sums up the main outcome of our course (I                  know you are really busy…so here’s a little clue for you…think Duty of Candour)

THEN……Email me on  and write the word/phrase that you think it is……..’The word/phrase that sums up the main outcome of the course is….?????????’

The competition is open until Friday 10 June with the answer published on Monday the 13th….My Birthday !!!!!   GOOD LUCK!!!!

Please note there can only be one winner for each day so it will be the first person received with the correct answer and they will be privately notified by email.