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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

Intelligent Kindness: Reforming the Culture of Healthcare

John Ballatt and Penelope Campling

Price: £25.00

Members' discount available

Published: Jun 2011

Format: Paperback

Number of pages: 208

ISBN: 9781908020048

Intelligent Kindness: Reforming the Culture of Healthcare

Intelligent Kindness is a powerful new approach to healthcare reform. Ballatt and Campling argue that the NHS is a system that invites society to value and attend to its deepest common interests; it is a vital expression of community and one that can improve if society, patients and staff can reconnect to these deeper values. To do so will improve quality and patient experience, as well as morale, effectiveness, efficiency and value for money.

Relentless regulatory and structural NHS ‘reforms’ have failed to avert scandals and left many health service staff feeling alienated. Industrial and market approaches to reform, whatever their merits, urgently need to be balanced by an applied understanding of what motivates and assures compassionate practice. The authors examine this topic from a wide variety of perspectives, including psychoanalytic thinking, group relations, neuropsychology, social psychology and ethology.

This book calls on policymakers, managers, educators and clinical staff to apply and nurture intelligent kindness in the organisation and delivery of care, and offers advice as to what this approach means in practice.


Readership: This book will be essential reading for health service managers, clinical leads, politicians, policy-makers and health journalists.


About the authors:

John Ballatt - Independent consultant advising on health and social care and organisational systems, Leicester.

Penelope Campling - Consultant Psychiatrist and Psychotherapist at Francis Dixon Lodge (a therapeutic community), Leicester.







Part 1: Healthy kindness


Rescuing kindness


A politics of kindness


Building the case for kindness


Part 2: The struggle with kindness


Managing feelings of love and hate


The emotional life of teams


Cooperation and fragmentation


On the edges of kinship


The end of life


Part 3: The organisation of kindness


Unsettling times


The pull towards perversion


Free to serve the public


Intelligent kindness


“A passionate and clear articulation of the issues of kindness within professional caring systems.  The message is clear, well argued for and makes a case with conviction beyond rhetoric.”

- Dr Gwen Adshead - Consultant Forensic Psychotherapist, Broadmoor Hospital, Berks.


“To be kind is to be in harmony with human need, requiring empathy and a sense of equality. Kindness, camaraderie and mutuality are essential for our physical and emotional well-being, and never more so than when we are ill, or when we are caring for those who are ill. Ballatt and Campling show how kindness can work to heal individuals, organizations and society.”

- Kate Pickett - Professor of Epidemiology, University of York


“Like any quality, compassion thrives under certain conditions and withers under others. The authors skilfully illuminate the processes that have tipped us just too far into the withering direction. A wise and compelling insight into the crisis in compassionate care within the health service, and what can and should be done about it.”
- Professor Paul Gilbert - Head of Mental Health Research Unit, University of Derby and Founder of the Compassionate Mind Foundation.

“This is a generous book…it explains important ideas in an open and understandable language, it explores theories that are actually useful in thinking about how we care for others, and it offers some comfort therefore for those who work at a difficult time for public services and those (all of us in the end) who need these services.”

- Tim Dartington - Writer and Social Scientist


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4-star rating in the BMJ

"This wonderful book is an urgent plea for kindness as both the driving force and the touchstone of healthcare in the NHS. ...more than recommended reading. If I ruled the world, I would arrange for everyone who wields any power in the NHS to be locked in a room until they had read it. But then, of course, that is precisely the sort of dictatorial behaviour that the authors see as the antithesis of intelligent kindness, and so I am obliged to fall back on an unrestrained enthusiasm that I hope will prove infectious."

 - British Medical Journal (BMJ)

(Review written by Iona Heath, President of the Royal College of General Practitioners)

"This is an important book that I would strongly recommend to everyone working in the health service, whether working as a clinician or a manager. It is particularly pertinent at this moment in time as it asks how we might have avoided the major problems which we have seen in Stafford, and in learning difficulties and elderly services, due to lack of care, if we had spent only a proportion of the effort that goes into the process of organising, regulating, and industrialising the National Health Service on recognising and supporting the compassionate relationship and kinship that develops in successful care between the caring professional and the patient. It then makes a strong case as to why allowing the market to dominate is likely to make care worse rather than better."
- Journal of Psychological Therapies in Primary Care

"A profound, timely and nuanced book."
- NHS Managers Network site