Nurses have expressed concern about a new service being marketed as an “Uber for nurses”.
Map a Nurse, which is set to launch in London, will enable people with a minor injury or illness to order a nurse straight to their home, hotel or workplace via a mobile phone app for a fee.
Mario Bucolo, who has founded the organisation alongside a nurse with 20 years’ experience, said the concept of the service was similar to that of popular taxi firm Uber.
Patients will be required to fill in a form through the app giving details about their condition, which will then we sent to a nurse in the area.
The request will be assessed by the nurse, who will either visit the patient or refer them to another service if that is more appropriate.
Entrepreneur Mr Bucolo said Map a Nurse app was an “intermediary service”, acting as a tool to connect people with registered nurses who would be required to act in accordance with the Nursing and Midwifery Council code.
A spokeswoman for the Care Quality Commission confirmed that Map a Nurse did not need to register with the regulator because the company had no role in managing or directing the care provided.
Mr Bucolo said: “We want to create a service that is useful both for customers and nurses.”
Nurses working for the 24/7 service will have indemnity insurance in case anything goes wrong.
Mr Bucolo said fees were still being finalised but that they would be in the region of £50 for the first hour, and less thereafter.
Nurses are currently being recruited and Mr Bucolo said the aim was to launch the service in London in the next one to two months with the hope of branching out if it was successful.
However, the venture has been criticised by the Royal College of Nursing and on social media.
Tom Sandford, director of the RCN in England, said: “While on one level, this type of service may be attractive to the public and nurses looking for a flexible working options, it raises a number of questions and concerns.
“There is more to nursing than performing a basic care task. It requires building a relationship, undertaking a whole-person assessment, designing and delivering a plan of care, and evaluating the outcome.”
Among the concerns raised by Mr Sandford about a service like this were pay and working terms and conditions for the nurses; patient safety; managerial oversight; and indemnification.
He added: “It is also not clear what the market for this would actually be. There are already agencies that supply home visits for people with long-term needs that provide a level of continuity this service cannot.”
The scheme has also sparked controversary on Twitter among the nursing community.
Claire Flatt, a registered nurse and lecturer, wrote: “Basically dial a district nurse? So many questions! Will you be linking in with the [patient’s] GP? If ad-hoc care how is this monitored/followed up? How are the jobs delegated to the appropriate person? How is [patient] info shared? Feels [very] exploitative of both nurse & [patients].”
Dr Elaine Maxwell, a registered nurse and clinical research advisor, added: “Uber style nurses? How do you develop a therapeutic relationship there then?”
Student learning disabilities nurse Shaun Williams wrote: “Come to think of it, would you risk your registration in an unregulated/unsupervised environment? It’s very easy to overstretch yourself. All it takes working outside your competency or a mistake and you’ve fallen below the standard of a reasonably competent practitioner.”