The Office for National Statistics (ONS) will use the protected title ‘registered nurse’ for official employment statistics, as suggested by nursing campaigners.
Campaigning efforts by registered nurses and researchers Dr William Ball and Dr Nicola Fisher were rewarded when the ONS released V7 of the Standard Occupational Classification (2020), which added ‘registered’ to nursing titles.
This comes as part of ongoing efforts to legally protect the title of nurse. While registered nurse is a legally protected title, ‘nurse’ on its own is not and there are no legal restrictions on who can claim to work as a nurse.
Speaking to Nursing in Practice, Dr Ball said that ‘it’s generally understood that a nurse is a regulated and trained professional, but anyone can legally use this as their job title regardless of their qualifications or professional registration status.
‘We felt that this classification should reflect the current legal framework where ‘registered nurse’ is protected and ‘nurse’ on its own is not.’
Dr Ball gave the example of Kate Shemirani, who was struck off by the NMC in 2020 for promoting misinformation and conspiracy theories about Covid-19, and yet ‘was and remains legally free to misrepresent herself and call herself a nurse ‘.
Earlier this year, Dr Ball sent an open letter to the ONS calling for the change in order to avoid ‘confusion and inaccuracy in official statistics’. Dr Ball also pointed in the letter that that this presented ‘an important patient safety issue’.
However, while the latest change adds ‘registered’ to titles such as ‘nurse practitioner’ or ‘mental health nurse’, thee ONS has no not introduced a category for ‘registered nurse’.
Professor Alison Leary, a professor of workforce modelling who launched a petition to legally protect the title, pointed out on Twitter that ‘all we need to do now is for ONS to recognise 2231 as registered nurse, not nurses (the job titles are not legally protected but its a start.)’
A representative for the ONS said: ‘Following stakeholder feedback, we have now revised various group titles in the Standard Occupational Classification, including for nurses where we have incorporated ‘registered’ into the titles of several categories of nursing professionals. These changes will remain part of the Standard Occupational Classification and, subject to any further feedback, we anticipate that they would be carried forward in the next major review due in 2030.’