Nurses should be trained in entrepreneurship as part of degrees in order to overcome barriers to social enterprise schemes, according to research part-funded by the Cabinet Office.
The Birmingham University study said such training must be part of the core curriculum if social enterprises run by clinicians were to play a significant role in the new-look NHS.
The coalition government has stressed its support for social enterprises as part of its health reforms. However, the first large nurse-led social enterprise scheme, set up in 2006 as Central Surrey Health, remains the only real example of its kind.
The study looked at the previous government’s now defunct “Right to Request” scheme which was intended to encourage public sector staff to set up social enterprises.
Researchers found nurses and other clinicians struggled to develop social enterprises beyond their initial idea, and then felt “isolated” when they did progress further.
The findings chime with previous warnings from Queen’s Nursing Institute director Rosemary Cook that lack of support for nurse entrepreneurs within nursing was holding back innovation (news, page 1, 3 February 2009).
Responding to the Birmingham study, Ms Cook said she was unsure training in social entrepreneurship was need at pre-registration level but said it should be more widely available for registered nurses.
She said: “Some nurses have set up social enterprises and they say it is the best thing they have ever done, but for many nurses it is a completely alien culture.”