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Protected 'nurse' title some way off


Nurses will have to wait for some time before they see their title protected, according to the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

The NMC has been urged to set out how only registered nurses can call themselves “nurse” by the Prime Minister’s Commission on the Future of Nursing and Midwifery in England. But NMC chief executive and registrar Dickon Weir-Hughes said such a move would almost certainly require legislation, which is likely to slow down the process.

Professor Weir-Hughes said that in terms of protecting the public, stripping other workers of the right to call themselves nurses “was probably the right thing to do”, and he said the NMC was taking legal advice, and would liaise with the Department of Health, over the mechanism to protect nurse as a title.

“As regulators we have to take what is the right decision for the majority of people,” he said.

“Occasionally that means a small number of people are disadvantaged”.

The PM’s Commission also called on the NMC to regulate specialist and advanced practice nurses.

Professor Weir-Hughes said a working group would be set up immediately, and he hoped it would report “in months rather than years”.

Professor Weir-Hughes said the NMC would have to wait to be asked to take forward the work it has already begun on the regulation or licensing of healthcare assistants and assistant practitioners.

But he argued that the NMC was best-placed to take on this responsibility.

“Many nurses and midwives believe very strongly that if they are delegating to HCAs, who are now carrying out some quite significant roles, then registration should be part of the nursing and midwifery family,” he said.

Professor Weir-Hughes said the nursing pledge set out in the Commission’s report would always remain secondary to the NMC’s code.

The code applies to all nurses and midwives, not just those working in the NHS, and it would be considered when complaints are made.

But Professor Weir-Hughes said he was in favour of the new pledge, which would provide “additional supportive guidance” for nurses and midwives in the NHS.


Readers' comments (5)

  • All this talk about who can or cannot be called nurse seems so ridiculous. The term nurse was originally used as an adjunct to other words e.g. 'wet', 'nursery' way before 'to nurse' became an adjective. Surely it is more important in this age of equality, diversity, and every other 'ity' we can think of that we take into account how others see us. I would rather that all my colleagues be seen and addressed as nurse, by those we are caring for rather than have to try and explain to them why they can call me nurse but not the person I am working with. We ask those we care for how they wish to be addressed, and I think if we ask them how they want to address us the answer will be unanimous.

    I may be a dinosaur but I am proud to be called nurse, and equally proud that my colleagues are called nurse because none of us works in isolation, and putting barriers up between 'us and them' denegrates the call for equality.

    If you are so precious that you think only registered nurses can be called nurse then how are you going to rewrite the english language:
    nursing mothers, nursery nurses, wet nurses, veterinary nurses, maternity nurses, (feel free to add your own nurses). They all have one thing in common, THEY CARE for someone or something, rather than their own ego's and if your ego is too big then I feel so sorry for you.

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  • It's okay, we'll have to wait some time before the NMC does something useful too!

    And to Linda Dixon, it is not about ego, it is about PROFESSIONALISM, and pride IN that professionalism that is very distinct from ego!

    Of course the title Nurse should be protected!

    We are a profession, simple as that. We work damn hard for the qualification and we have a distinct and highly valued body of knowledge as a result. We should be bloody proud of that and claim the title Nurse with pride!

    Those who have not gone through that education or training, or are responsible and accountable in the same way we are to our professional body, should NOT be able to call themselves Nurse. It is as simple as that. Yes we all work together toward the same goal, but we have very different roles and accountabilities in doing so.

    I cannot call myself a MEDICAL Doctor without a medical degree (the term Doctor is academic, the term medical doctor is honourary and applies only to the medical profession and is protected as such). Neither can I call myself a teacher, or a policeman, or a soldier, without the correct training and priveliges bestowed on me upon earning that title. It is illegal for me to do so. It should be the same for Nurses.

    As for the uniforms, all staff nurses across the UK should have the same uniform, and this also should be protected, in the same way a police or soldiers uniform is. Hairdressers, cleaners and every tom, dick and hair and beauty worker should be banned from wearing simialar uniforms just to ride the professional bandwagon we have earned.

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  • I agree that the uniform should be protected, and I think this issue is more relevant than protecting the term 'nurse'. I am not interested monopolising the ability to care for patients, just make our profession easily identifiable and stop unprofessional behaviour of untrained staff (only some, most are marvellous) being blamed on us.
    A single uniform nationally that can only be worn by registered nurses would stop the public confusing the professional attitude of the nurses at our local hospital with the home care workers from a private company who wear the same uniform but seem to spend their working day outside the local branch of tescos smoking fags.

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  • Martin Gray

    I deduce from the above anaonymous comments that they have already posted on other threads?

    One thing is certainly coming across very stronglyy.... the need to return to a nationalised uniform as opposed to the variety that now exists in each hospital/trust.

    Let's start there shall we? it isn't a difficult thing to do after all.

    As for the excuses given by the NMC for delays well I cannot say I'm in the least bit surprised. No doubt, after all the pontification, we will be told we have to pay more for our registration because of the 'additional administrative costs'.

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  • If registered nurses are to be distingushed professionally from other groups perhaps another title will be necessary as 'nurse' is a common noun in the English language and free for everybody to use.

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