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NHS Core Values

It is inevitable that you will work in the NHS for at least part of your medical career if not all of it. Being a part of the NHS comes with a set of values which bind all members of NHS staff together. It is important that you are aware of these values and are able to show how you align with them as this is highly likely to come in your medical school interviews.

Here we outline the things you need to know about the NHS core values and highlight their significance, so you understand why they have been put in place.



The Core Values

E.g. The medical team curing a pneumonia while an occupational health team make care home plans

  • Patients come first in everything we do.

  • Put the needs of patients and communities before organisational boundaries.

  • We speak up when things go wrong.

E.g. A nurse treating each patient the same, with a respect for each patient’s queries

  • We value every person.

  • Respect their aspirations and commitments in life.

  • We take what others have to say seriously.

  • We are honest and open about our point of view and what we can and cannot do.

E.g. A clinician making an extra effort to get a rare new treatment for a patient

  • We earn the trust placed in us by insisting on quality, principally – safety, effectiveness and patient experience.

  • We encourage and welcome feedback.

  • We use this to improve the care we provide and build on our successes.

E.g. A clinician taking an extra few minutes to listen to a patient’s worries about an upcoming treatment

  • We ensure that compassion is central to the care we provide.

  • We search for the things we can do, however small, to give comfort and relieve suffering.

  • We find time for patients, their families and carers, as well as those we work alongside.

  • We do not wait to be asked, because we care.

E.g. planning and delivering a care plan that markedly improves an elderly patient’s quality of life

  • We strive to improve health and wellbeing.

  • We cherish excellence and professionalism wherever we find it.

  • We recognise that all have a part to play in making ourselves, patients and our communities healthier.

E.g. No patient being denied treatment by any NHS service

  • We maximise our resources for the benefit of the whole community, and make sure nobody is excluded, or discriminated against.

  • We accept that some people need more help, that difficult decisions have to be taken – and that when we waste resources we waste opportunities for others.

Significance of the core values

Core Values that have been collaboratively created by NHS Staff, patients, and the public. Universality - The NHS core values should be upheld by all NHS staff, not just doctors or direct employees.    Daily Practice - they underpin everything the NHS, does and align with the pillars of medical ethics. Medical Ethics & Regulatory Organisations - also aid regulatory organisations (GMC, Royal Colleges) in forming their guidance for practice.

Practice Medicine Interview Question

Can you give an example of how the core values can be expressed outside of clinical practice?
What are the importance of those core values?
How have you demonstrated this in your extra-curriculars, volunteering or academic life?

TAM's Top Tops

  1. Be familiar with the core values – they can influence your answers to seemingly unrelated questions

  2. Read around the topic – you can use our website

  3. Keep the core values in mind with ethical questions


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