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New health reforms could be amended to offer legal protection to the title of nurse, to protect it from abuse.
Labour former minister Dawn Butler has warned that “almost anyone could use the title of nurse”, leading to people claiming to be nurses while spreading misinformation.
She has tabled an amendment to implement the “long overdue” change via the Health and Care Bill, which sets out reforms to both the NHS and social care.
Brent Central MP Ms Butler told the PA news agency: “It is important that we truly respect the experience and expertise of a registered nurse.
“For too long almost anyone could use the title of nurse and this has caused problems in regards to automatically assuming that an individual was a registered nurse and therefore gave people more credit than they deserved.”
I'm delighted to have tabled this important amendment to the #HealthandCareBill, to protect the title of 'nurse'.
I hope @sajidjavid & the Govt accept this simple, non-controversial move as it's long overdue.
— Dawn Butler MP✊🏾💙 (@DawnButlerBrent) November 18, 2021
She added: “The title of nurse automatically says you trust their expertise, it was a shock to me that this could so easily be abused.
“This amendment is long overdue and will, I hope, show the nursing community just how much we respect and appreciate them in society.”
Her amendment is supported by more than 30 MPs, including the Labour frontbench and Conservative Bob Blackman (Harrow East).
It says: “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 one or two of the register as a registered nurse, or in the specialist community public health nursing part of the register.”
Anyone found guilty of misusing the title could be fined.
Struck-off nurse Kate Shemirani has reportedly used her title to give credence to her views at anti-vaccination protests in the UK.
A petition started in the summer calling for Parliament to protect nurses’ job titles from abuse has now reached more than 31,000 signatures.
There is a workforce crisis in the NHS right now, so will the Prime Minister back me, 6 select committee chairs, every Royal College and 50 NHS organisations in publishing regular independent estimates of how many people we should be training? pic.twitter.com/DuQjDMUfFm
— Jeremy Hunt (@Jeremy_Hunt) November 17, 2021
The Government has previously said it is reviewing the protection of medical workers’ titles and is exploring the issue alongside regulator the Nursing and Midwifery Council.
The Bill as a whole seeks to reform the NHS to make it less bureaucratic and more accountable.
As part of this effort, new regional authorities called Integrated Care Systems are being set up across England.
It also aims to close gaps between health and social care, including by finding new ways of getting people who have ongoing needs out of hospital while still giving them care.
Concerns have been raised that the Bill represents a power grab by ministers and a “corporate takeover” of the NHS.
Other amendments to the Bill include Government plans to make virginity testing a criminal offence, which could result in as much as five years in prison, and a Labour amendment calling for health warnings to be printed on individual cigarettes as well as the packet.
Conservative MP John Baron (Basildon), supported by former health secretary Jeremy Hunt, has also tabled a proposal requiring the Government to set objectives for the NHS on cancer treatment which are defined by outcomes – such as one-year or five-year survival rates.
These objectives would take priority over any others relating to cancer treatment, such as waiting times.
Conservative MP Mr Hunt also has an amendment requiring the Government to publish immediately verified assessments every two years of current and future workforce numbers to deliver care in England.
Tory former minister Caroline Nokes wants to change the Bill to give the health secretary the power to introduce a licensing regime for aesthetic non-surgical cosmetic procedures, and make it an offence for someone to practise without one.
The remaining stages of the Bill will be considered in the Commons on Monday and Tuesday.