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The nursing job adverts ‘that should set alarm bells ringing’

Employers are opening nursing jobs up to non-nurses, claims RCN
some nursing jobs are being opened up to non-nurses, RCN claims

Employers are opening nursing jobs up to non-nurses, claims the RCN, but Englands chief nurse said integrated roles are emerging in healthcare

Employers in the NHS are inviting non-nurses to apply for nursing posts, according to the RCN.

A matrons position in acute medicine was open to candidates with no nursing qualifications and a staff nurse job was pitched at allied health professionals as well as nurses, the college claims.

The RCN said the phenomenon should worry health ministers and insists it must be stopped on patient safety grounds. But Englands chief nurse believes an integrated approach to recruitment is in the best interests of patient care.

Practice signifies the depth of nurse recruitment crisis

Employers are opening nursing jobs up to non-nurses, claims the RCN, but England’s chief nurse said integrated roles are emerging in healthcare

some nursing jobs are being opened up to non-nurses, RCN claims
Picture: iStock

Employers in the NHS are inviting non-nurses to apply for nursing posts, according to the RCN.

A matron’s position in acute medicine was open to candidates with no nursing qualifications and a staff nurse job was pitched at allied health professionals as well as nurses, the college claims.

The RCN said the phenomenon should worry health ministers and insists it must be stopped on patient safety grounds. But England’s chief nurse believes an ‘integrated’ approach to recruitment is in the best interests of patient care.

Practice signifies the depth of nurse recruitment crisis

Although the RCN has no data on how widespread the practice is, acting general secretary Pat Cullen believes it demonstrates the depth of the nurse recruitment crisis.

She said: ‘The very fact employers are filling nursing posts in this way should set alarm bells ringing that ministers should not ignore, and spur them into proper investment in the long-term future of the nursing workforce.

‘Acting in this way not only leads to vacancies elsewhere but also carries a risk to patient care.’

Applications wanted… but not necessarily from nurses

Examples of recruitment advertisements, cited by the RCN:

  • Matron post for older people’s mental health and learning disability services open to ‘registered professional clinician with demonstrable evidence of working at senior level’
  • Matron post in acute medicine open to those without a nursing qualification
  • Band 5 staff nurse position requiring ‘RGN/RN or equivalent allied health professional qualification’
  • A vacancy for which registered nurses and nursing associates were considered interchangeable

Drawing skills from a range of professional backgrounds

However, chief nursing officer for England Ruth May said: ‘Patient care has always been delivered by teams of professionals working together, and with the emergence of more integrated roles we expect providers to examine the expertise and skills required from a range of professional backgrounds, which ultimately is better for patients.’

NHS England and NHS Improvement said where there is a clear requirement for a registered nurse, the recruitment advertisement should state this, and where other registered professions can fulfil the role, this must be made clear.

Nurse – an unprotected job title

While ‘registered nurse’ is a protected title in the UK, the title of ‘nurse’ is not and the issue of people having the job title of nurse but lacking nurse qualifications is long-standing.

A 2018 investigation by Nursing Standard, found 93% of 143 trusts in England employed unregistered support staff in posts with titles containing the word nurse.


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