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Feminism: chat

Protect the title Nurse

156 replies

Cuck00soup · 24/10/2021 09:39

Arbella2 has been doing sterling work over on petitions and activism to promote the current petition to protect the title Nurse in law so that it can only be used by those who are qualified and registered with the appropriate organisation.

This isn’t a TAAT, I thought it was worth discussing the feminist aspects of this. The nursing workforce is predominantly female and I can’t help thinking that is part of the issue.

As explained by prof Alison Leary in the blog linked below Although the term Registered Nurse is protected under the 1997 Nurses Midwives and Health Visiting Act, the term “nurse” is not protected in the UK. It’s an issue because the term nurse is the term in common usage. Other professional titles such as physiotherapist, hearing aid dispenser, dental nurse or paramedic are protected in law.

This means anyone can use the term nurse to offer services, advice or be employed as a “nurse”. The use of the term nurse is not restricted to use by Registered Nurses and can be used by many different types of worker. This includes assistive roles such as healthcare support workers or other professionals taking on “nursing” work.

It is women who are most affected by this. If the title Nurse isn’t protected in law, the option to employ unqualified workers becomes tempting to companies looking to save money. This means nursing assistants being placed in positions they shouldn’t be, and patients and the public being at risk of receiving the wrong care. It will also, in all likelihood, exert a downward pressure on the salaries of qualified nurses.

I can’t help wondering if this would even be an issue in professions with more males.

If you would like to sign the petition, please see Arbella2’s thread

OP posts:

spotcheck · 24/10/2021 09:43

I don't think it's a feminist issue, and I don't think you can protect the word ' Nurse'.
I could understand the profession being protected with an additional label, like ' Registered Nurse' or similar.

There ARE strict guidelines about practice though?


spotcheck · 24/10/2021 09:44

( although I do concede I may need to read further)


Cuck00soup · 24/10/2021 10:27

There is an example on the thread of someone who had a pip assessor who described themselves as a nurse. The assessee checked and they weren’t on the professional register. QED they were not a nurse.

OP posts:

Reptar · 24/10/2021 12:06

If someone told me they were ''a Nurse'' I'd expect them to be registered. I thought it a protected term, despite the fact that 'nursing' is used by women who are breast feeding, or by someone caring for a person or animal that is ill.


Arbella2 · 24/10/2021 13:37

We are the group with the most contact with Healthcare. Besides our own health and possible motherhood, we are the ones most commonly taking children and relatives to medical appointments. We are the ones most likely to need to be their advocates.
I would argue therefore that this is a very relevant topic for this platform.
Only the title Registered Nurse is protected in UK law. The title Nurse is not.
This is at odds with titles such as hearing aid dispenser , paramedic and physiotherapist which are protected titles and do not require the prefix of registered.
A lack of Protection of the title Nurse in UK law has led to
• Anyone being legally able to call themselves a nurse including offering professional advice and services.
•Struck off Registered Nurses being legally able to call themselves a nurse.
•A vast array of titles with the term Nurse in them in healthcare settings. The title is being used for both registered nurses and for staff who have undergone different training.
•Employers including the NHS to be able to employ those without registered nurse qualifications into registered nursing roles ie Staff Nurse and District Nurse.

Does this matter to you?
Do you think it should be up to you every time to ask if the nurse treating you or a loved one is a registered nurse ?
Do you agree that the most vulnerable groups are most at risk ?
Do you think it's wrong for the risk to be for the patient/ client but none for individuals claiming to be a nurse and those employer's involved in risky recruitment practice ?
Before commenting please go to the petition thread to have a look at the evidence including a press release from The Royal College of Nursing. Then please do comment , whatever your view.


Arbella2 · 24/10/2021 14:01

I would say that the descriptions of nursing (breastfeeding) a baby or nursing (caring for) a sick individual are completely different as they are based on historic common use language.


Camomila · 24/10/2021 14:23

There's also 'nursery nurse'- although I think its changing to 'early years practitioner' or 'early years educator'


happylittlevegemites · 24/10/2021 14:26

I think this is a healthcare issue, not a feminist issue. Dentists are the only health care profession with true protection of title AND function.


FTEngineerM · 24/10/2021 14:40

I can’t help wondering if this would even be an issue in professions with more males.

Yes it does.

‘Engineer’ isn’t protected either so the technician who comes and tinkers with your phone line can call themselves an engineer. The ‘gas engineer’ who comes and fits your smart meter. The term can be used by anyone. When in reality to become an engineer it takes years of education then years of ‘on the job’ experience, then you are an engineer. It’s getting lost and the meaning eroded.


Fallagain · 24/10/2021 14:42

What happens to dental nurse, veterinarian nurse, nursery nurse? All female dominated.


CovidCorvid · 24/10/2021 14:43


I think this is a healthcare issue, not a feminist issue. Dentists are the only health care profession with true protection of title AND function.

Nope midwives as well. Midwife is a protected term.

I think even the term doctor isn’t? Hence chiropractors calling themselves Dr x when they aren’t medically trained. Which I think is very wrong.

Cuck00soup · 24/10/2021 14:43

I happen to believe that is very much a feminist issue, although accept others may disagree.

It’s about Undervaluing and underpaying for the qualifications, knowledge and skills of professional nurses 90% of whom are female.

It’s also about not misleading the public either accidentally or wilfully, and as mentioned above, more women than men are engaged with healthcare through their caring responsibilities.

OP posts:

CovidCorvid · 24/10/2021 14:45

We have nursery nurses working on the paed wards at my local hospital, name badge says nursery nurse. I’d wager the parents of the sick kids they’re looking after think it’s a medically qualified nurse looking after their kid.


Arbella2 · 24/10/2021 14:53

There are a multitude of protected titles in uk law in healthcare.


FTEngineerM · 24/10/2021 14:55

I happen to believe that is very much a feminist issue, although accept others may disagree.

That’s interesting, so you’re choosing to ignore the male dominated industry I told you about?


Arbella2 · 24/10/2021 15:05

I think it is likely that most people would agree there needs to be a look at many titles within and outside healthcare. Every title that is identified and protected paves the way for others to follow. It is very often the same people pushing for change.


Cuck00soup · 24/10/2021 15:16

No, I’m not ignoring you. I’d be interested to know what you think the reasons are within engineering/technicians though. Although there are varied qualifications, is it convenient for some to deliberately fudge the titles I wonder? And yet, when an Engineer with the right qualifications is needed to sign off the risk assessment on an important project, the right person is usually found.

Within healthcare, protecting titles protects the public, but its also about not putting unqualified staff in situations they are not trained for and paying a professional salary to those with the qualifications. This is the bit that affects women more.

OP posts:

NumberTheory · 24/10/2021 15:17

I think it’s very much a feminist issue because nurses (both the registered and unregistered) are predominantly women, and the outcome has a big impact on women. Discrimination isn’t the only thing that makes a subject feminist. (I would suspect the issue over which titles get protected status and which don’t has more to do with classism than sexism and while the impact of that classism has been sexist, I don’t think it’s the sexism that drives a reluctance to protect the “nurse” title).

I think gaining protected status could help increase the standing of registered nurses. It might, however, make it harder for women who aren’t registered but currently use the title, to get the sort of respect and wages they deserve. I think whether the overall balance would favour employed women or hurt them would depend to an extent on whether it would actually make employers hire more registered nurses - that’s a claim I think needs some evidence as I don’t think it’s obviously the case.


TomAllenWife · 24/10/2021 15:38

Signed & shared on Twitter


Arbella2 · 24/10/2021 15:49

Thank you TomAllenWife


Arbella2 · 24/10/2021 16:21

Feminist, Suffragette and Nurse Ethel Gordon Fenwick fought vehemently for over thirty years for Nurse registration in the UK (source Royal College of Nursing Libraries)
One hundred years later this title needs protecting.
I think she would hope for a voice on this platform.


Metallicalover · 24/10/2021 16:33

This is not a feminist issue!
I work with a large number of male nurses!
Yes the nurse title should be protected, definitely not a feminist issue.


Babdoc · 24/10/2021 16:40

The engineering example is an interesting one, FTEngineerM.
In many European countries, the title Engineer is used as an honorific, like Dr or Mr. And is restricted to engineering graduates, who command respect for their professional skills and training.
I wonder if in the UK we still have a hangover of the class system, where “trade” and potentially messy mechanical sciences such as engineering, were looked down on as not suitable for gentlemen? And therefore the title was not respected or restricted, being applied freely to simple repairmen who had never studied an engineering degree?


Cuck00soup · 24/10/2021 16:46


Signed & shared on Twitter

Thank you
OP posts:

happylittlevegemites · 24/10/2021 17:28

@CovidCorvid But do midwives have protection of function? I mean, are there laws that prevent non-midwives doing midwifery things?

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