A new vetting scheme could breach nurses' human rights and affect their ability to respond to patient needs, according to the RCN, which is to call for a judicial review.
Launched last October, the scheme was developed to stop unsuitable people working with children or vulnerable adults and was launched in response to the murder of two schoolgirls in Soham by Ian Huntley.
All nurses, midwives, nursing students and healthcare assistants will have to register with the Independent Safeguarding Authority when it is fully operational and it could strike people off for up to 10 years for certain offences.
But the RCN claims it denies nurses a fair hearing or right to appeal, which could breach the European Convention on Human Rights. The body has written to Home Secretary, Theresa May, to signal its intent to apply for a judicial review.
Chief Executive, Peter Carter, said: "Of course, nursing staff recognise that the protection of children and vulnerable people is of the utmost importance. However, we are concerned that the new scheme is already failing to provide our members with a fair hearing and can result in them being disproportionately barred for 10 years for less serious disciplinary offences."
"This is just another of the ineffective knee jerk reactions to uncontrollable situations. There have always been murderers and paedophiles out there and these laws will do nothing to protect the public from them" - Linda Styan, North Yorkshire
"It's good to see the RCN taking a stand against this dreadful vetting scheme. But where has its opposition been to the out of control CRB checking of its members, in place since 2002, in the supposed interest of protecting the vulnerable from us? There's not a shred of evidence to suggest these checks work or are worthwhile, yet they are now virtually institutionalised. Vetting promotes mistrust and bureaucratises relationships between nurses and families and communities. Whose interests are really being served by these checks? Dare I suggest that its the Child Protection and Vulnerable Adults industries, not ours or the people who are being protected from us. The Manifesto Club which I'm a member of, runs a campaign against vetting. Read about its work here - http://www.manifestoclub.com/hubs/vetting" - Brid Hehir, London