Concern over digital app that promises nurses’ services on demand

Entrepreneur claims nursing app offers nurses flexibility – but RCN fears for their rights

Entrepreneur claims nursing app offers nurses flexibility – but RCN fears for their rights

Nurses could be 'hailed' by patients in the community. Picture: iStock

A business that promises nurses on demand has prompted concern over the protection of their rights as well as patient safety.

The Map a Nurse app would allow patients to book a nurse to come to them in the community at any time.

But the service, co-founded by London-based photographer Mario Bucolo, who describes himself as a 'serial entrepreneur', and adult nurse Sharon Corburn, is raising questions at the RCN and Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC), a professional body for recruitment.

The app offers services including catheter care, dressing changes, and eye drop administration. Mr Bucolo said pricing was under discussion but could be £50 per treatment. A selling point, he believes, would be faster treatment at the individual's convenience.

‘There is more to nursing than performing a basic care task’

Tom Sandford, director, RCN England

Mr Bucolo said nurses would have flexible working patterns, adding that around 30 nurses and 200 customers have signed up. No launch date has been set. 

Pay and conditions

RCN England director Tom Sandford worries about the business model.

‘There is more to nursing than performing a basic care task,’ he said. ‘It requires building a relationship, undertaking a whole-person assessment, designing and delivering a plan of care, and evaluating the outcome.’

Mr Sandford outlined several concerns the college had, including nurses' pay and conditions, nurse and patient safety, and indemnity for work.

REC policy director Tom Hadley echoed Mr Sandford.

He said: 'If, as the website states, their nurses are self-employed, that would raise questions regarding their employment status, pay, clinical supervision and oversight, and overall responsibility for the quality of care they provide.'

'It's not like a nursing agency'

Mr Bucolo believes concerns stem from a misconception his service would act like a nursing agency, rather than being a service that merely introduces nurses and clients and has no continued role between them. He added that nurses would be protected by personal security devices and he was considering body cameras too.

He said while nurses would be expected to manage their own tax arrangements, the service plans to offer free advice on this subject.

A Care Quality Commission spokesperson said an ‘introductory service’ would not fall under its remit because the nurses are considered self-employed and 'work directly for the person receiving care'.

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