The PM launched a commission in March to look at nursing and midwifery chaired by Health Minister Ann Keen. It will identify the skills and competencies required for 21st century services, and look at whether they should lead and manage their own services.

Darzi identified nurses and midwives as key to providing quality care - and  at the recent Innovation EXPO in London, Martha Lane Fox of fame talked about her experience of the NHS following a major crash.

Spending two years in hospital, she was well qualified to comment on what makes a good nurse - and she identified two “stars” who had made a positive impact on her time in hospital. The first was a nurse who talked to her when she was unable to communicate herself - and who shared stories about her family as she worked. The second was a nurse who spent time making her hair look good when she was flat on her back and about to receive visitors.  She talked about the nurse who always knocked before coming into the room, who remembered to touch, who explained what she was going to do.

None of these things need a degree - but of course, that is what is planned for our nursing workforce in the future. By September 2011 we will have new degree programmes replacing the current diploma, and many believe this is a positive step.

My anxiety is that we are losing sight of the most important thing - compassion and caring (OK that’s two things). 

Martha Lane Fox talked about the fact that nurses knew inherently what needs to be done - and that was something that could be lost when they became more “grand”. 

So - a plea to those who decide curriculum content not only for nurses, but for leaders and managers - remember people skills!

If you want to contribute your views to the commission, go to their website:

Another good website which contains patient opinion on different hospitals is: