The nursing profession needs to show more compassion to patients in order to provide better care, according to the chief nursing officer.
Speaking on the day of a new campaign launch to improve the quality of nursing in the UK, Jane Cummings argued that more focus needed to be put on patient care as much as in the academic qualifications of nurses.
"Part of the action we've got in the strategy we're launching today is about the recruitment of staff," she told Radio 4's Today programme.
"That's not just based around technical skill but around values and the behaviour and compassion they have got."
She emphasised the need to focus on the "six Cs" of nursing: care, compassion, competence, communication, courage and commitment.
The launch follows a series of scandals over patient care, including abuses at Winterbourne View nursing home in Bristol, which was exposed in a BBC Panorama documentary.
Six members of staff from the home were jailed in October following a police investigation.
Cummings was also presented with the case of an elderly patient who was apparently regarded as a "nuisance" by staff after she repeatedly refused food and water, according to the patient's daughter.
"Any story like that is hard to hear and it is a betrayal of the work we do as nurses. It just doesn't bode well for our enduring values and what we want to do," she added.
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt welcomed the new approach and suggested that such cases may be more widespread than currently thought.
"Ensuring that patients get the best possible care is a priority for this government," he said.
"Nurses play an important role in this which is why this announcement by nurse leaders is so important."