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UK Parliament Reject Law Meant for the Protection of Nurse Title

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UK Parliament Reject Law Meant for the Protection of Nurse Title by Peter(m): Tue Nov 2021 09:05pm
The government has rejected a proposal to protect the ‘nurse’ title in UK legislation during a parliamentary vote this afternoon.

Dawn Butler, Labour Party MP for Brent Central, today called for a vote on her amendment to the new Health and Care Bill, which aimed to ensure only those on the relevant parts of the Nursing and Midwifery Council register can call themselves a nurse.



However, the move was dismissed by health minister Edward Argar. He said he could “see the benefit in providing reassurance and clarity” by protecting the nurse title but did not accept what he described as a “flawed” amendment.

Moments later 304 MPs voted against the move, versus 240 who signalled their support.

The proposal from Ms Butler comes as part of the #ProtectNurse campaign, spearheaded by Alison Leary, professor of healthcare and workforce modelling at London South Bank University.

As previously reported by Nursing Times, she wants to see the job title ‘nurse’ protected in UK legislation, following several high-profile cases of people misusing it.

Currently, ‘registered nurse’ and ‘specialist community public health nurse’ are protected titles, as well as ‘nursing associate’ and ‘midwife’, but ‘nurse’ alone is not.

The Health and Care Bill – which aims to force greater collaboration between the NHS, local authorities and care providers to achieve integrated care – is currently going through the House of Commons.

This week saw several proposed amendments to the bill debated, including that on protecting the title of nurse.

Ms Butler’s amendment stated: “A person may not practise or carry-on business under any name, style or title containing the word ‘nurse’ unless that person is registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council and entered in sub part 1 or 2 of the register as a registered nurse or in the specialist community public health nursing part of the register.”

An individual who “contravenes” this would be “guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level four on the standard scale”, the amendment adds.

The clause stressed the move would not prevent any use of titles such as ‘veterinary nurse’, ‘dental nurse’ or ‘nursery nurse’.

“I think it's dangerous not to put it right today” Dawn Butler


Presenting the proposed amendment in the Commons today, Ms Butler said it was about the “safety and protection of patients and the public”.

“It is quite shocking to understand that anybody can call themselves a nurse, whether they have any qualifications… or whether they have no qualifications at all, they can actually call themselves a nurse.

“And as we know, when somebody calls themselves a nurse, it gives them a certain standing in society automatically think they know what they’re doing.”

She highlighted examples of “tragic and devastating consequences” when people misused the title.

“We’ve got this opportunity to put this right today,” said Ms Butler. “In fact, I think it’s dangerous not to put it right today.”

However, in response, health minister Mr Argar said, while he could “understand where she is coming from with her amendment”, he would not accept it as currently drafted.

“I can see the benefit in providing reassurance and clarity for both patients and professionals,” Mr Argar told MPs. “But we don’t feel we are able to accept her amendment as drafted at the moment.”

“We don’t feel we are able to accept her amendment as drafted at the moment” Edward Argar

He described it as “flawed in its drafting” and said it did not address "fundamental challenges" around how this change would impact other professional groups such as dental nurses and veterinary nurses.

However, he assured the house that he would “continue to reflect” on the intent behind the proposal.

In March this year, the government launched a new consultation on proposals to reform the regulation of health professionals, including nurses and its regulator.

During his response, Mr Argar said that “any subsequent change” on the nurse title “could form part of the legislative reform programme for the Nursing and Midwifery Council”.

This was also signalled by the Department of Health and Social Care during its official response to Professor Leary’s campaign and petition for the move, which was issued in July.

Source: Nursing Times


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