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Calls for RCN to clarify position on protecting nurse title

Hospital corridor


Nurses have criticised a lack of outright support by the RCN Council for the popular campaign to protect the ‘nurse’ title in UK law.

A petition on the issue, which has reached over 20,000 signatures, argues that ‘registered nurse’ and ‘nursing associate’ are protected titles – but that anyone can legally call themselves a ‘nurse’.

The RCN Council ‘agreed to support the principles’ behind the petition in a statement released today but did not comment on the petition itself. An emergency resolution on the topic will be debated at RCN Congress in September, it added.

The statement sparked backlash on Twitter. Professor Alison Leary, a registered nurse and academic who launched the petition, said it was ‘unfortunate’ the Council did support the petition despite widespread support.

Other nurses questioned why the RCN Council supported the ‘principles’ behind the petition but not the petition itself, while many urged the Council to support the petition outright.

Groups from across the RCN have pledged their support for the petition including the RCN GPN Forum, the Professional Nursing Committee, RCN Women’s Health and the Trade Union Committee.

RCN Council chair Dave Dawes said: ‘The Council meeting covered every angle on this topic and there was widespread support for the principle behind the petition.

‘The debate in our meeting proved that this is such a crucial issue for our members that we need the wider membership to have their say on the best way to protect our professionals and those they care for. We’ll be asking for an emergency resolution on this topic to be debated at September’s Congress.’

The RCN told Nursing in Practice the College is not commenting further ‘for now’ on the statement – including what it meant in supporting the ‘principles’ of the petition, nor more information on the emergency resolution requested to be debated at Congress.

Last week, the Government responded to the petition by saying it would ‘consider in detail’ whether to protect the title of ‘nurse’ in UK law amid concerns about misuse.