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Protect nurse title in law, says Jonathan Ashworth



Picture: Screenshot of Jonathan Ashworth from the online QNI conference

The nurse title should be protected in UK law so only registered nurses can use it, shadow health and social care secretary Jonathan Ashworth has said.

Speaking today at the QNI annual conference, Mr Ashworth raised concerns people are ‘abusing’ the title. It is not currently protected in law, meaning anyone can call themselves a nurse without needing qualifications or experience, or if they have been struck off the register.

This comes after the Government said in July that it will ‘consider in detail’ whether to protect the title in law, in response to a petition that reached more than 20,000 signatures.

Mr Ashworth told community nursing delegates: ‘Anyone can call themselves a nurse and you’ve got people abusing this title… I think it’s really important that when we’re talking about nurses, we know we’re talking about registered nurses.’

He cited the anti-vaccination campaigner Kate Shemirani who has been able to call herself a nurse despite having been struck off the NMC register.

Earlier this year, Professor Alison Leary, the workforce academic who launched the nurse title petition, told Nursing in Practice that research she worked on in 2017 revealed the nurse title is ‘used by many different groups who are not on nursing registers’.

She said: ‘The term nurse can be used by anyone in the UK. They can use this term to offer professional advice and services even if they have no nursing qualifications, experience or have been struck off a professional register.

‘To protect the public, the title nurse should be limited to those who are registered with professional regulators, such as registered nurses and dental nurses,’ she added.

Also at the conference, Mr Ashworth described nurses as the ‘golden link’ in communities and said the profession was ‘absolutely vital’ to tackling health inequalities.

More stories on the QNI Annual Conference 2021 to follow.