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A new framework for nursing careers

Having been at Birmingham two weeks ago at the NiP Event I just wanted to take this opportunity to say how much I enjoyed myself. I enjoyed talking to the delegates and finding out where they had travelled from, where they worked and whether they were enjoying their day. I also enjoyed chairing the sessions although I did have a potentially traumatic moment when the table in front of me collapsed. I fear I upstaged the speaker Ray Poll and his interesting talk about hepatitis C, but we carried on without too much disruption.
I was really fascinated to find out how far you are prepared to travel to come to a NiP event. I believe that this is a testament to the quality of the speakers and the relevance of the topics being covered. I know how difficult it is to get away from work for professional development; it often entails an inquisition into the benefits to the organisation rather than a personal reward. With new venues in 2008 and new speakers coming on board with a broader range of topics to cover the wide range of work you do, 2008 as a really exciting time for NiP Events. I look forward to meeting you at some of them next year.

Moving on - do you know about the consultation document from the Chief Nursing Officer Towards a framework for post-registration nursing careers? If you haven't, I urge you to read it and respond to the consultation. At the moment it is just for England, but it is indicated that the other health departments are looking on with interest! Changes are afoot to how nursing careers are organised and the biggest impact of this will be on those of us working in community and primary care. After meetings with key stakeholders from across the professions in health and social care they are proposing wide-ranging changes to how nursing careers progress and develop.

The framework identifies "pathways" for nursing careers, moving away from clinical specialisms and the divide between acute and primary care nursing. The pathways proposed are:

  • Children, family and public health.
  • First contact, access and urgent care.
  • Supporting long-term care.
  • Acute and critical care.
  • Mental health and psychosocial care.

The idea is that nurses will "major" in one pathway and intervene at a level fitting their competence. Across these pathways will be the themes of health promotion, end-of-life care, holism, safeguarding vulnerable people and long-term conditions (working towards prevention, supporting self-management and crisis intervention).

This consultation should be read along side Modernising nursing careers: setting the direction and Lord Darzi's report on improving the delivery of healthcare in the 21st century.(1,2) There is also recognition that Liberating the talents: helping primary care trust nurses to deliver the NHS plan has had little impact on the education of community nurses or on workforce planning.(3)
Thus many changes are possibly afoot or is it another exercise in exploring possibilities, but not actually making the big shifts, that are needed. Will nursing career needs be undermined by others demands? What are your career aspirations? What does this mean to you? How are we going to encourage new nurses into community nursing? What does all this mean for existing qualifications and posts?

These are the questions this document raises for me. I encourage as many of you as possible to respond to this consultation. Otherwise the views expressed will be those of high-level academics, managers and policy makers, not those of you working next to patient care.

Read it and find some time to respond! The consultation ends 15 February 2008.


  1. Deparment of Health. Modernising Nursing Careers: setting the direction. London: DH; 2006.
  2. Deparment of Health. Our NHS Our future THE NHS Next Stage Review Interim Report. London: DH; 2007.
  3. Department of health. Liberating the Talents: helping primary care trust nurses to deliver the NHS Plan. London: DH; 2002.

All available from the Department of Health website

"I want to gain my Masters and to enhance my practice maybe at nurse consultant level. Training for this through my Trust is not easy to get. And if it was available, I still may not be allowed to go due to staffing levels and strains on an already stretched service" - Name and address supplied