Values-based recruitment is used in England to select healthcare staff, trainees and students on the basis that their values align with those stated in the Constitution of the UK National Health Service (NHS). However, it is unclear whether the extensive body of existing literature within the field of moral philosophy was taken into account when developing these values. Although most values have a long historical tradition, a tendency to assume that they have just been invented, and to approach them uncritically, exists within the healthcare sector. Reflection is necessary. We are of the opinion that selected virtue ethics writings, which are underpinned by historical literature as well as practical analysis of the healthcare professions, provide a helpful framework for evaluation of the NHS Constitution values, to determine whether gaps exist and improvements can be made. Based on this evaluation, we argue that the definitions of certain NHS Constitution values are ambiguous. In addition to this, we argue that ’integrity' and ’practical wisdom', two important concepts in the virtue ethics literature, are not sufficiently represented within the NHS Constitution values. We believe that the NHS Constitution values could be strengthened by providing clearer definitions, and by integrating ’integrity' and ’practical wisdom'. This will benefit values-based recruitment strategies. Should healthcare policy-makers in other countries wish to develop a similar values-based recruitment framework, we advise that they proceed reflectively, and take previously published virtue ethics literature into consideration.
- philosophical ethics
- education for health care professionals
- health personnel
- quality of health care
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Contributors JEG wrote the main text of the article. AC and AG provided their feedback and suggestions in multiple iterations, and helped rephrase certain sections of the article.
Funding This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent Not required.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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