Improving NHS culture: support and compassion

Supportive and compassionate behaviours form the third cultural characteristic fundamental to the delivery of continually improving, high-quality care.

If we want staff to treat patients with respect, care and compassion, all leaders and staff must treat their colleagues with respect, care and compassion.

Directive, aggressive or brusque leaders dilute the ability of staff to make good decisions, deplete their emotional resources and hinder their ability to relate effectively to patients, especially those who are most distressed or challenging. There are clear links between staff experience and patient outcomes. Staff views of their leaders are strongly related to patients' perceptions of the quality of care. The higher the levels of satisfaction and commitment that staff report, the higher the levels of satisfaction that patients report. If leaders and managers create positive, supportive environments for staff, they in turn create caring, supportive environments and deliver high-quality care for patients. Such leadership cultures encourage staff engagement.

Essential reading

Staff engagement


Staff engagement publication
Adopt supportive and inclusive leadership styles: one of the six building blocks for harnessing the creativity and enthusiasm of NHS staff.

Medical engagement: a journey not an event


What is good medical engagement? And in those organisations where it exists, how has good medical engagement been created and sustained?


Emerging leaders


What support do I need as an emerging female leader, asks Dr Kate Granger.

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