Nurses will be expected to work more flexibly and gain increased 'entrepreneurial skills' under an NHS plan to modernise their careers.

Nurses will be expected to work more flexibly and gain increased 'entrepreneurial skills' under an NHS plan to modernise their careers.

Modernising Nursing Careers: setting the direction, published last week, sets out a framework for allowing nurses to move more easily between jobs and branches of the profession, and removing some of the bureaucratic barriers to changing roles.

The document says that the NHS needs to address 'the current inflexibilities and barriers in nursing that get in the way of integrated care for patients, restrict the ability to redeploy resources to shortage areas and limit career opportunities for staff'.

It says that the four UK health departments will explore whether changes are needed to the content and level of the nursing pre-registration programme. There could also be a 'competency passport scheme' to allow nurses to move more easily between trusts.

Nurse leaders will also need to have business and entrepreneurial skills and greater confidence to engage in 'strategic decision-making and business issues'. And it says that nurses should feel confident to work with a wider range of providers.

Jane Naish, policy adviser at the Royal College of Nursing and a member of the modernising nursing careers board, said: 'In future nurses will have to work with a greater range of providers and we want to ensure that they have the skills to do that.

'One of the contentious areas may be in making any changes to pre-registration courses for nurses, but we do need to include, for example, more training in mental health services for pre-registration nurses.'

But Gail Adams, health spokesperson for Unison, and another member of the board, said: 'We need to have some transparent career pathways for nursing, but one area that we have concerns about is where nurses are working for providers outside the NHS.

'We are concerned that the employment rights of nurses in the NHS are protected in any changes in career pathways.'