• 23 September 2021
  • 3 min read

Should ‘Nurse’ Be A Legally Protected Job Title?

  • Matt Farrah
    Co-Founder
    • Richard Gill
    • Mat Martin
    • Laura Bosworth
    • Aubrey Hollebon
    • M McDaniel
    • Nathalie Harris
    • Sue Wiggins
  • 10
  • 742
Should ‘Nurse’ Be A Legally Protected Job Title?

A new effort is underway to gain protection in UK law for the job title ‘Nurse’. Supporters of this effort suggest that acquiring this protection will result in improved patient safety.

At present, only ‘Registered Nurse’ and ‘Nursing Associate’ are protected titles. ‘Nurse’ is not, so anyone can legally call themselves a Nurse.

Professor of Healthcare and Workforce Modelling at London South Bank University (LSBU), Alison Leary, said “There is an issue about other professionals calling themselves Nurses and employers appointing people into nursing roles without nursing qualifications and registration”.

Do you think that ‘Nurse’ should be a protected title so that only registered and practicing Nurses may legitimately use that title? Comment 💬 Like ❤️ Reply 🙂 below.

Professor Leary and her colleagues at LSBU first investigated the use and misuse of nursing titles in 2017. Their study showed that hundreds of nursing jobs across the NHS designated as ‘advanced’ or ‘specialist’ roles were in fact being held by people who were not registered Nurses.

A year later, the then Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) for England Jane Cummings, reviewed options for a legal change to ensure only those registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) as a Nurse could legitimately use that title.

Unfortunately for Cummings, she wasn’t successful. At the time government ministers did not support the move.

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What do YOU think?

Let me know your thoughts in the Comments & click Like!

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Recently, a petition sponsored by Professor Leary calling for legal protection for the title of ‘Nurse’ was launched. At the last count it had nearly 27,000 signatures.

Do you think that the petition today will be more successful in getting a change to the law enacted than efforts back in 2018 were?

In 2021, a search of NHS Jobs reportedly found 150 nursing jobs where either a nursing qualification was optional, or where staff nurse and specialist nurse vacancies specified either NMC or HCPC registrants.

The problem of non-nurses in nursing jobs was also highlighted by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) in June this year. The RCN cautioned that shortages of nursing staff were more frequently resulting in recruitment practices they deemed to be “risky”.

Professor Leary said she believed that shortages of nurses were a “major factor” behind the opening up of nursing jobs to other professionals.

Is the lack of nursing numbers the main reason for non-nurses to be employed in nursing roles? And how do you think legal protection for the job title ‘Nurse’ would change that situation?

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What do YOU think?

Let me know your thoughts in the Comments & click Like!

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Professor Leary maintains that protecting the ‘Nurse’ title is a patient safety issue. “There’s quite a big body of evidence now that shows that if nursing care isn’t provided, then the consequences for patients can be catastrophic,” she explained.

“With better definition of Registered Nurse, Nurse, Healthcare Support Worker or Nursing Support Worker, I think it would be a lot easier to identify and articulate the contributions of those groups,” she added.

Do you think having more clearly (and legally) defined roles for Nurses and Support Workers will do anything to address the shortage of Registered Nurses? And can patient safety be improved without addressing staffing levels?

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), in response to the petition, warned of the possible complications with legally protecting the Nurse title due to its use across multiple professions, such as registered nursing and dental nursing.

However, the issue is being looked at as part of an ongoing wider review into professional regulation, according to a DHSC statement.

Do you expect that the recently proposed increase in NHS and social care funding will in any way assist with efforts to gain legal recognition for ‘Nurse’ as a job title? Or will the DHSC have its hands full with overwhelming patient backlogs and a likely difficult winter-flu season?

Please let us know what you think in the comments, and Like the article if you found it interesting.

Thanks.

About the author

  • Matt Farrah
    Co-Founder

I studied English before moving into publishing in the mid 90s. I co-founded Nurses.co.uk and our other three sites in 2008. I wanted to provide a platform that gives a voice to those working in health and social care. I'm fascinated, generally, by the career choices we all make. But I'm especially interested in the stories told by those who choose to spend their life supporting others. They are mostly positive and life-affirming stories, despite the considerable challenges and burdens faced.

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  • Matt Farrah
    Co-Founder

About the author

  • Matt Farrah
    Co-Founder

I studied English before moving into publishing in the mid 90s. I co-founded Nurses.co.uk and our other three sites in 2008. I wanted to provide a platform that gives a voice to those working in health and social care. I'm fascinated, generally, by the career choices we all make. But I'm especially interested in the stories told by those who choose to spend their life supporting others. They are mostly positive and life-affirming stories, despite the considerable challenges and burdens faced.

  • 10 Comments
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    • Wazir Ausalut 12 days ago
      Wazir Ausalut
    • Wazir Ausalut
      12 days ago

      No, the title nurse is a very universal one within context of the english language. Stick to registered nurse or ... read more

    • Karryne Hodgkinson 22 days ago
      Karryne Hodgkinson
    • Karryne Hodgkinson
      22 days ago

      I dont think protecting the title will reduce the shortage of Nurses. It will protect people against quasi Nurses. It ... read more

    • Thomas Boyle 23 days ago
      Thomas Boyle
    • Thomas Boyle
      23 days ago

      I do not feel that making the title nurse legally protected will help to reduce the nursing shortages. they will ... read more

      • I think the debate is suggesting it might help if we can all confirm, in one word, that someone has the required skills for a specific healthcare role. It is suggesting a debate might be had around wh... read more

        I think the debate is suggesting it might help if we can all confirm, in one word, that someone has the required skills for a specific healthcare role. It is suggesting a debate might be had around whether "nurse" carries more clearly understood definitions of skill, qualifications and registration by a governing body. Ultimately, it comes down to semantics - the phrase Registered Nurse already does these things. Would it be even more helpful if the simple, single word "Nurse" does it too? It's not saying that those other professions are also skilled or recognised
        read less

        Replied by: Matt Farrah

        To be honest, I'm personally not sure what my own position is on this. I view the nursing journey as one that embraces many roles - from HCAs to Physios, Midwifery, ODP. There is overlap on skills, th... read more

        To be honest, I'm personally not sure what my own position is on this. I view the nursing journey as one that embraces many roles - from HCAs to Physios, Midwifery, ODP. There is overlap on skills, there's a commonality in that they are all caring professions, and in many instances an individual has been or will be any one of those professionals.
        read less

        Replied by: Matt Farrah
    • Sue Wiggins 23 days ago
      Sue Wiggins
    • Sue Wiggins
      23 days ago

      I think the title of nurse should be protected. We work hard to qualify and stay on the register and ... read more

    • Penny Corkerton 23 days ago
      Penny Corkerton
    • Penny Corkerton
      23 days ago

      Absolutely l worked hard to get my qualifications, l don’t even like health care assistants wearing navy blue because the ... read more

      • Don’t you think HCA work hard too maybe circumstances have stopped some from getting a “ qualification” !

        Replied by: Joan Sandilands
    • Shirley Tivey 23 days ago
      Shirley Tivey
    • Shirley Tivey
      23 days ago

      I agree. There is a carer living near me who introduces herself as a nurse and it’s not fair.

    • Nathalie Harris 23 days ago
      Nathalie Harris
    • Nathalie Harris
      23 days ago

      I didn't know this wasn't a protected title and yes I definitely think it should be. It really undermines the ... read more

    • M McDaniel 23 days ago
      M McDaniel
    • M McDaniel
      23 days ago

      I have been a Registered Nurse (now INP) for a very long time. There is so many issues happening over ... read more

    • laura hay 23 days ago
      laura hay
    • laura hay
      23 days ago

      Nobody should be able to call themselves a nurse unless they have done their training. It is unacceptable. We have ... read more

    • Joan Sandilands 23 days ago
      Joan Sandilands
    • Joan Sandilands
      23 days ago

      For goodness sake ...why start a discussion on "who" can be called "Nurse" anyone who cares for patients knows that ... read more

      • I understand your sentiment for those situations. But there are other situations when it is(at the least)very helpful), for instance, when advertising a role, where a clear definition of the word is r... read more

        I understand your sentiment for those situations. But there are other situations when it is(at the least)very helpful), for instance, when advertising a role, where a clear definition of the word is really helpful. If a job is seeking a "Nurse" it is useful for jobseekers and those hiring if there is clarity on what that means(a veterinary nurse, senior care assistant or a person with the qualifications, skills and registrations required to do a specific job).
        read less

        Replied by: Matt Farrah