Nursing walking down a ward

RCN backs calls to protect the title ‘nurse’ in UK law

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Council has agreed to lend its support to the principles behind an ongoing petition calling for the title of ‘nurse’ to be reserved to those registered with the professional regulator, the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

Under the proposals of the petition, the UK Government would also protect this title under UK law.

Currently, the term ‘registered nurse’ is protected in law, but the more general term ‘nurse’ is not. This means, in practice, any can describe themselves as a nurse and use the term regardless of whether they have no nursing qualifications, experience or have been struck off from a professional register.

The RCN stated that it believed it was important to help protect the public, ensure accountability and safeguard trust in the profession.

Professional identity is a central part of nursing practice, offering patients that reassurance of qualification and training from a safety critical role.

The petition for the title change was started by RCN Professional Nursing Committee member Alison Leary last month.

Chair of RCN Council 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."

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