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Friday, 26 April, 2002, 16:08 GMT 17:08 UK
Doctors to get lessons on being nice
NHS staff
Ministers want to improve the bedside manner of staff
NHS staff are to receive lessons on how to be nice to patients, under plans being drawn up by the Department of Health.

A training programme to improve the communication skills of newly-qualified doctors and nurses is to be established later this year.

Courses for all other NHS staff are expected to be up and running by the middle of next year.

The programme, which will be run by psychologists, will aim to ensure staff are more sensitive to patients and avoid making gaffes or outbursts.

We want all staff in the NHS to be given training with a patient centered focus

Department of Health spokeswoman

The courses will be offered through the new NHS university.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: "We want all staff in the NHS to be given training with a patient centered focus."

Officials will work with academics, patient groups and professional representatives to decide what the courses should cover and who will benefit.

The spokeswoman said: "Patient involvement will be key to this process. Expert working groups are being established to scope learning needs, best practice, and range of staff who will benefit."

Time with patients

However, senior members of the British Medical Association were sceptical about the plans.

Dr Jonathan Reggler said: "I am very much in favour of the idea that doctors should communicate well with patients.

"But I have to say I don't think the solution is to send us on courses. I think the solution is allow doctors to spend more time with patients.

"The problem is we are simply asked to see too many patients too quickly and in that situation it is sometimes difficult to communicate well at all times."

Dr Laurence Buckman said doctors already received this type of training as part of their medical training.

He added that trainee GPs spend much of their time developing their consultation skills.

"If they are saying GPs need to learn consultation skills, then they are already doing that as part of their training.

"But if they are saying that GPs need to keep up to date then I think that is very reasonable. Most GPs do that anyway."

Dr Buckman added: "Communication skills are very complex.

"Communication is not just about being nice, it is also about listening and it takes the best part of GP training to learn those skills."

See also:

08 Mar 00 | Health
GPs' bedside manner targeted
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