Commissioning for compassion: the perceptions of healthcare commissioners about commissioning for positive staff experience

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Healthcare staff that show compassion towards patients tend to be more effective at delivering care. Latterly, the concept of compassion has been applied to the way in which healthcare is designed and delivered at the organisational level. Given healthcare employers have a responsibility to ensure the health and safety of their staff, and the evidence that positive staff experience is associated with positive patient experience , compassion towards healthcare staff potentially benefits both staff (directly) and patients (indirectly).

We conducted structured interviews with eleven commissioners and other key stakeholders in England to explore their perceptions of the role of workplace compassion for healthcare staff, and the barriers and drivers to achieving positive staff experience for healthcare staff in healthcare provider organisations. Thematic analysis was conducted by two researchers with any discrepancies resolved through discussion.

Commissioning services from organisations that are compassionate workplaces was seen as highly important, yet participants expressed doubt about whether this is achievable in light of current service pressures. Emotional intelligence, non-blame cultures, kindness, investment in staff, flexibility and compassionate leadership were described as requirements to achieve workplace compassion. Yet challenges remain in that compassion has traditionally been reserved for patients. As such, there was some hesitancy by healthcare commissioners about whether compassion can be afforded to staff in equal measure.

Implications will be discussed, particularly the ways in which commissioning for positive staff experience could be both supported and incentivised by and for healthcare commissioners.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017
Event31st conference of the European Health Psychology Society : Innovative ideas in Health Psychology - University of Padua, Padova, Italy
Duration: 29 Aug 20172 Sept 2017
Conference number: 31


Conference31st conference of the European Health Psychology Society
Abbreviated titleEHPS
Internet address


  • commissioning
  • NHS
  • Work-life Balance


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