NMC asks for discussion on protecting ‘Nurse’ title after recent misuse and mounting pressure

The regulator is calling for the power to protect the title and apply enforcement to those using it without the required professional registration. 

James McKay
18 June 2021
Student nurse in hallway

Only the term “Registered Nurse” is legally protected requiring registration.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has called for a discussion on protecting the “Nurse” title.

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It comes after a recent high-profile case “underlined the limitations of “Nurse” not being a protected title”.

With over 10,000 signatures in less than a week, a petition calling for the title “nurse” to be legally protected is also rapidly gaining the support of both the profession and the public.

Under current legislation, only the term “Registered Nurse” is legally protected requiring registration with the nursing regulator.

Protecting the public.

In stark contrast, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, dietitian and paramedic are all legally protected titles and professionals must be registered with The Health and Care Professions Council in order to use them.

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In a consultation document responding to a review of professional regulators, the NMC calls for the powers to protect the title and apply enforcement to those using it without the required professional registration.

They argue that the measures are needed to “protect the public”.

The document reads; “Recent high profile cases have underlined the limitations of “Nurse” not being a protected title.

“It is essential that we have the right protected titles and associated enforcement powers to be able to take effective action to protect the public and maintain confidence in the professions.

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“We would welcome a further discussion with DHSC to ensure that our protected titles and enforcement powers are fit for purpose under the new legislation.

On the world stage, in some US states the terms “nurse” or “nursing” may only be used in conjunction with the practice of a registered nurse (RN) or licensed practical or vocational nurse (LPN/LVN).

Most trusted profession.

Leanne Patrick, a registered nurse and supporter of the petition, told NursingNotes; “As the most trusted profession year upon year, our title should be protected to ensure that reputation remains intact.

“Many people take the nurse title to mean registered nurse, which presents a clear patient safety issue as it is open to misuse.

“Nurses who have been struck off the register and even people who have never been nurses at all are able to use the title freely and without consequence.

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“It is long overdue for change. If we are owed anything as a profession, particularly following the pandemic response, it is the simple right to protect the title we work to maintain such high degrees of trust in.”

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