Why and How Is Compassion Necessary to Provide Good Quality Healthcare?

Document Type : Editorial


Warwick Business School, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK


Recent disclosures of failures of care in the National Health Service (NHS) in England have led to debates about compassion deficits disallowing health professionals to provide high quality responsive care. While the link between high quality care and compassion is often taken for granted, it is less obvious how compassion – often originating in the individual’s emotional response – can become a moral sentiment and lead to developing a system of norms and values underpinning ethics of care. In this editorial, I argue why and how compassion might become a foundation of ethics guiding health professionals and a basis for ethics of care in health service organisations. I conclude by discussing a recent case of prominent healthcare failure in the NHS to highlight the relationship between compassion as an aspect of professional ethics on the one hand, and values and norms that institutions and specific policies promote on the other hand.


Commentaries Published on this Paper

  • Healthcare and Compassion: Towards an Awareness of Intersubjective Vulnerability; Comment on “Why and How Is Compassion Necessary to Provide Good Quality Healthcare?”

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  • Why the Critics of Poor Health Service Delivery Are the Causes of Poor Service Delivery: A Need to Train the Policy-makers; Comment on “Why and How Is Compassion Necessary to Provide Good Quality Healthcare?”

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  • Why and How Is Compassion Necessary to Provide Good Healthcare? Comments From an Academic Physician; Comment on “Why and How Is Compassion Necessary to Provide Good Quality Healthcare?”

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  • Beyond Compassion: Replacing a Blame Culture With Proper Emotional Support and Management; Comment on “Why and How Is Compassion Necessary to Provide Good Quality Healthcare?”

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  • Compassion Is a Necessity and an Individual and Collective Responsibility; Comment on “Why and How Is Compassion Necessary to Provide Good Quality Healthcare?”

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  • Is It Possible to Develop a Compassionate Organization?; Comment on “Why and How Is Compassion Necessary to Provide Good Quality Healthcare?”

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  • Imagined in Policy, Inscribed on Bodies: Defending an Ethic of Compassion in a Political Context; Comment on “Why and How Is Compassion Necessary to Provide Good Quality Healthcare?”

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  • Why Good Quality Care Needs Philosophy More Than Compassion; Comment on “Why and How Is Compassion Necessary to Provide Good Quality Healthcare?”

            Abstract | PDF


Author’s Response to the Commentaries

  • What Money Cannot Buy? Compassion in Healthcare: A Response to the Recent Commentaries

            Abstract | PDF


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