Nurses are to be scored on how compassionate they are towards patients as part of a government plan to improve quality in the NHS to be unveiled in the runup to the 60th anniversary of the health service next month, the Guardian can reveal.

The health secretary, Alan Johnson, wants the performance of every nursing team in every ward across England to be measured, with the results published on an official website.

He believes putting a smile on the face of nurses and encouraging empathetic care is as important to recovery as the skill of doctors in the operating theatre.

The thing about measuring compassion, right, is that it’s easier to exhibit greater compassion for people who are in deeper pain. We all know how people who work according to metriculated standards modify their work practices to meet their ‘service level agreements’ rather than act like a human being just doing a job and co-operating with other people. So what could happen here is that nurses deliberately neglect patients to the point where they’re writhing in agony and howling in pain, just so that they can come along and say ‘oh dear oh dear, love, let’s get you sorted eh?’, the supervisor ticks the box marked ‘displays good empathy and compassion’, the nurse gets a good appraisal, the minister says that performance is improving in hospitals but there needs to be more private sector partnerships in their running, the private sector firms rub their hands with glee, and so on and so forth, the hospitals are delivering outstanding levels of service, and people are enabled to die at home or at work without the need for any medical intervention.


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