This paper was presented to an OPUS scientific meeting on 19th January 2012 in London.1 Using ideas from the book of the same title, the paper explores the conditions, which facilitate or impede compassion in healthcare and the organizations that provide it. Ballatt and Campling argue that the NHS is a system that invites society to value and attend to its deepest common interests; a vital expression of community and one that can improve if society, patients and staff can reconnect to these deeper values. Relentless regulatory and structural ‘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. Given the recent history of concern and anxiety, and the threat of more changes through reorganisation of the National Health Service (NHS), they argue that this perspective is more critical than ever.