In June 2008 the UK government, supported by the Royal College of Nursing, stated that nursing care would be measured for compassion. This paper considers the implications of this statement by critically examining the relationship of compassion to care from a variety of perspectives. It is argued that the current market-driven approaches to healthcare involve redefining care as a pale imitation, even parody, of the traditional approach of the nurse as “my brother’s keeper”. Attempts to measure such parody can only measure artificial techniques and give rise to a McDonald’s-type nursing care rather than heartfelt care. The arguments of this paper, although applied to nursing, also apply to medicine and healthcare generally.
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Competing interests: None.
Provenance and peer review: Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
↵i Since this paper was written, the Healthcare Commission has stated that there are recurring nursing shortcomings in acute hospital care related to hygiene, provision of medication, nutrition and hydration, use of equipment, and compassion, empathy and communication.43
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