Open access. Editorial. Alongside concern about avoidable mortality, one of the key findings of the public enquiry into failings at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust,1 which ran Stafford Hospital in England, was the lack of compassion in care delivery. Sir Robert Francis, who led the enquiry, laid the blame for the compassion deficit at the door nursing and support staff. He recommended, among other things, that people should work as care assistants prior to nurse training and that values-based recruitment should be used to ensure that the ‘right’ people are recruited to be nurses. However, there has been little evidence to support these propositions. For example Snowden et al 2 found that nursing students who had previous care jobs scored no higher for emotional intelligence than those without prior experience.