Compassion, in its original meaning in Latin, means 'with suffering'. Compassion is usually expressed towards others when we experience their suffering, being there with them in some way that makes their pain more bearable (Firth-Cozens and Cornwell, 2009).
A simple definition is that it is 'a deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the wish to relieve it' (Chochinov, 2007).
The casual reader of recent reports might be forgiven for thinking that nurses have no interest in compassion. The mainstream media have interpreted the regulator's shocking and disturbing reports about the quality of care in hospitals in Mid Staffordshire and Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells as poor nursing delivered by insensitive, even bad, nurses.
More recently, the Patients Association has fuelled public concern with a report documenting dreadful, neglectful, demeaning, painful and sometimes downright cruel treatment elderly patients had experienced at the hands of NHS nurses' (Patients Association, 2009).