Jon Ashworth, the shadow health secretary, has joined calls to protect the title of nurse, speaking at the QNI Conference.
He said the fact that the nurse title was not protected in law was ‘staggering’, adding that some people refer to themselves as nurses even if they were unqualified or had left the profession.
‘It leads to abuse where non-registered nurses can call themselves nurses and peddle anti-vax nonsense for example,’ said Mr Ashworth.
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‘It's why we are supporting the campaign to safeguard the title 'nurse' in law. I think it's really important that when we're talking about nurses, we know we're talking about registered nurses.’
The government has said it will consider protecting the title after a petition gained more than 20,000 signatures. Currently in the UK, anyone can call themselves a nurse, regardless of training or experience. Titles such as doctor, paramedic, midwife and even 'registered nurse' are all protected in law.
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‘We are currently engaging with stakeholders and working with the government to review our protected titles and ensure they are fit for purpose under any new legislation introduced,’ said Andrea Sutcliffe, chief executive and registrar of the NMC.