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Ruth May and RCN make job ad pleas

Chief nursing officer Ruth May


England’s chief nurse Ruth May has called for recruitment adverts to be clear after the RCN highlighted a growing issue of employers recruiting unregistered nurses.

The union this morning warned the ‘growing practice of employing those without registered nurse qualifications into registered nursing posts’ left patients ‘without professional nursing care and compromises safety’.

It said the practice appeared ‘to disregard that academic evidence, and the years of education and the specialist skill set of nurses who are registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).’

Pat Cullen, the RCN’s acting general secretary and chief executive, added: ‘The very fact that employers are needing to fill nursing posts in this way should set alarm bells ringing with ministers that cannot be ignored and spur them into a proper investment in the long-term future of the nursing workforce.”

Just after 12pm today Ms May said on Twitter that she would be ‘personally communicating with all chief nurses in England to ensure their recruitment adverts are clear and appropriately worded’. She asked: ‘If you are a #teamCNO Chief Nurse reading this, please review [your recruitment advertisements].’

A spokesperson for the RCN said that it would be monitoring how NHS trusts were recruiting after Ms May’s tweet. ‘The quick response from the top of the NHS in England is appreciated,’ they said. ‘We fully agree that “where there is a clear requirement for a registered nurse the recruitment advert should state this”, and we will monitor how trusts act following the CNO’s clear steer.’

The RCN explained it knew of cases where employers had formally opened registered nurse vacancies to people without registered nursing qualifications, or from different professional backgrounds, including physiotherapy and occupational therapy.

The adverts often carry a caveat that post holders need to be registered either with the NMC or Health and Care Professionals Council (HCPC), it also said.

Rachel Hollis, chair of the RCN’s professional nursing committee, said: ‘We need to see all employers in health and social care ensure that where a vacancy exists for a registered nurse, this is open to registered nurse applicants only.

‘We respect and value the role of all health care professionals in the multidisciplinary team but we believe that only registered nurses, and our nursing support worker colleagues, can deliver safe and effective nursing care.’