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Keeping the patient front and central: the role of storytelling
  1. Amelia Swift1,
  2. Joanne Etherton2,
  3. Alison Twycross3
  1. 1 Nursing, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK
  2. 2 School of Sport, Rehabilitation and Exercise Sciences, University of Essex, Colchester, Essex, UK
  3. 3 School of Health and Social Care, London South Bank University, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Amelia Swift, University of Birmingham, Nursing, Medical School, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 2TT; A.Swift{at}

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Healthcare is all about understanding and meeting the needs of the patient. We talk about holistic care, or being able to appreciate and support a patient from a biopsychosocial perspective, but there are constraints on healthcare services that encourage individuals and organisations to think of patients more as commodities or units. Patients are described as hindering effective use of healthcare resources by ‘blocking beds’, seeking treatment from the ‘wrong’ environment and failing to take responsibility for maintenance of health and well-being. High workloads lead to an increasingly task-based delivery of care1 and disengagement of nurses from patients as a form of self-protection.2 Not regarding patients as individuals helps us to make strategic plans and to design system-wide changes to address the imbalance in supply and demand, but it leaves patients' feeling unsupported and anxious,3 unfairly treated,4 suffering and uncared for.5 The antithesis of task-based care is compassionate care, which is based on empathy and concern not just for a patient’s biopsychosocial needs but also the wider context of that patient’s situation.

To deliver compassionate care, we need to understand what it is like to be a patient, which requires knowledge of the patient’s experience and empathy. A number of strategies can be used in the higher education setting to help promote student …

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  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.