Posted by: ayrshirehealth | March 27, 2013

The Golden Rule by @ginaaalexander

The Golden Rule

Golden ruleMuch has been written in the aftermath of the publication of the Mid Staffs enquiry.  Recently some sobering edicts from the Royal College of Physicians, Edinburgh  warning us, on this side of the border, not to be complacent and that the potential for our own Mid Staffs lurks in the shadows.

The fear is for some that the “lessons will be learned” and “action will be taken” rhetoric will be lost as time rumbles on.

God forbid.

How dare I say rumbles on!

Most of us are pondering the lessons and the implications for our own practice and those around us.     People lived through the horrific experiences which have come more into the spotlight in the last few weeks: hundreds of families living with the heartbreaking repercussions.    We can only try to appreciate their situation.    But try we must for it is fundamental to the care we must continue to strive to provide.

targetSo many questions: How could it happen, how could so many voices go unheard, why didn’t people speak up.  So many answers: the target was king, there was no systematic way of channelling feedback, a culture of fear.

It seems complex and wide ranging: the answers lying in 290 recommendations.

I’ve read lots of thoughtful pieces, written far more eloquently than anything I could offer so though I’d curate some of these for you.

Compassionate Care

Simon Watson’s piece in the latest Health Foundation newsletter and his views about getting clinical leaders on board “Patients deserve the best, most compassionate care. This only happens if all healthcare staff focus on continuous improvement.”

Simon Watson is Consultant Nephrologist at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, Clinical Lead for the Scottish Patient Safety Fellowship Programme, and a Health Foundation Clinical Associate.

Audrey Birt’s insightful blog questions whether we need to “teach compassion or create the right environment for it to flourish”.

Audrey Birt (@audreybirt) is an independent coach and consultant.

Paul Hodgkin writes about compassion being the missing piece of the jigsaw and how we engineer compassionate into the system.

Dr Paul Hodgkin (@paulhodgkin) is Chief Executive of independent not for profit websites, Patient Opinion and Care Opinion.

I find myself drawn to this concept of compassion and intrigued that it’s become such a prominent topic: where has it been, I wonder.   It’s an important theme running through these few pieces.   I am reminded from the stories and experiences I read and hear that being on the receiving end of compassionate care is absolutely crucial to “the person in Bed 7”: the “how” is really often more important than the “what” of care.   People can put up with the “what” if it’s delivered with compassion.

It is difficult to convey whether we’re meeting the compassion, dare I say it, target, using conventional measurement wisdom.   There are many stories about compassion on Patient Opinion and can beautifully illustrate compassion in action.patient opinion

Care for my 16 month old daughter

Excellent care for my mother

Caring for my gran

Be the change

The Royal College of Physicians, Edinburgh call for a change in culture. How do we ensure a culture of compassion?

We could, personally, “learn the lessons” from what has gone before.

We could, personally, maintain an awareness of the here and now experiences of people receiving care today.

We could “be the change we want to see in the world” (Mahatma Ghandi)

We could remind ourselves, several times daily, of what is known as the Golden Rule, oft quoted by my Mum and which Chief Medical Officer, Sir Harry Burns, speaking at a recent conference, reminded me of.

“Treat people the same way you want to be treated”

It seems so simple.    However, neither my Mum nor Sir Harry can claim to have come up with that powerfully simple phrase.   Just in case you didn’t get to Sunday School, here’s a clue: Matthew 7:12

  • I’d really be interested to hear what do you think?
  • What is the key?
  • How do we ensure a compassionate culture?

This weeks blog was written by @ginaaalexander Lead for Scotland for Patient Opinion Limited ( email:

Next week @docherty_e returns to blog for #ayrshirehealth


  1. Brilliant Blog, thank you! The terrible problems facing healthcare workers are, as you highlight so well, muddled, confused and very complex. This is what overwhelms individuals and paralyses so many who genuinely want to try to make a positive difference. You also quote excellent examples of what I believe is the only way the culture in healthcare can sustainably change.

    Individuals have to take full responsibility for how they are showing up. Your Ghandi quote is spot on – if we want compassion in healthcare every one of us has to be compassionate. Compassion is a way of being, it is not something that can be taught and then applied in a clinical setting. Time and resources have to made available for personal development initiatives for healthcare practitioners. It is not as ‘professionals’ but as caring human beings that we will guarantee safe, effective, compassionate care.

    • Thank you Lynne. It seems so simple but so challenging

  2. […] The Golden Rule  by Gina A Alexander on Ayrshire Health blog. […]

  3. […] People-centred approaches could have been a theme this week. Laura Graham, a first-time contributor to Weekly Blog Club on the new Dumfries and Galloway Health blog, focused on communication – briefing and debriefing and knowing colleagues in order to improve things for patients in Never Underestimate the Importance of Briefs for Patient Safety. Gina Alexander returned to Ayrshire Health’s blog to write about compassionate care of patients, and quotes her mother in The Golden Rule. […]

  4. […] off our blogs for March @ginaaalexander on Ayrshirehealth introduces The Golden Rule.  reflecting on the Francis report she ponders on the lessons and implication for each one of us, no […]

  5. Hi Gina

    Fab blog. I have shared this across our Arthritis Care Scotland Facebook page

    Melanie 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: