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Protected nurse title: ONS lists job terms as ‘registered’

Change of classification by Office for National Statistics is welcomed by campaigners as a positive step towards formal legal recognition for the nurse title

Change of classification by Office for National Statistics is welcomed by campaigners as a positive step towards formal legal recognition for the nurse title

The term ‘registered’ will now be used alongside nurse roles in the collection of official employment statistics – something seen as a win for nurses campaigning for the protection of the role.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has updated its standard occupational classification terms to add ‘registered’ to official nursing titles including nurse practitioner and mental health nurse.

Realignment of title is a ‘positive move’ towards protected

Change of classification by Office for National Statistics is welcomed by campaigners as a positive step towards formal legal recognition for the nurse title

The Office for National Statistics has updated its standard occupational classification terms to add ‘registered’ to official nursing titles
Picture: iStock

The term ‘registered’ will now be used alongside nurse roles in the collection of official employment statistics – something seen as a win for nurses campaigning for the protection of the role.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has updated its standard occupational classification terms to add ‘registered’ to official nursing titles including nurse practitioner and mental health nurse.

Realignment of title is a ‘positive move’ towards protected status

University of Aberdeen research fellow William Ball has campaigned for the ONS to officially recognise nurse as a protected title. He told Nursing Standard this was a ‘positive move’ towards legal protection for the profession.

‘This is important for accuracy as, at present, anyone could legally claim to work as a nurse,’ Mr Ball said.

‘I hope that the “nurse” title will eventually be protected in law, but, until that happens, aligning the occupational classification to the current legal arrangements is a positive move.’

The title of nurse on its own is not protected, meaning anyone can call themselves a nurse.

Mr Ball highlights the potential risks that can carry for the profession, pointing to the case of Kate Shemirani who was struck from the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) register for spreading misinformation about COVID-19 but can still legally claim to be a nurse.

Helping to bring clarity to the nurse title

Many have campaigned for the title to be used only by those registered with the NMC, including London South Bank University chair of healthcare and workforce modelling Alison Leary, who launched a petition in the hope it would be debated in parliament.

Ms Leary said: ‘The correct occupational classification by the ONS is essential as ONS data is used by so many organisations and can influence credit scores, insurance, mortgages and many other facets of our lives.

‘The fact that the ONS also understands that the term “nurse” can be used by many different groups and is helping to bring clarity is a good step forward.’

Less protection of the nurse title than a Cornish pasty

An ONS spokesperson said: ‘Following stakeholder feedback, we have now revised various group titles in the standard occupational classification, including for nurses where we have incorporated "registered" into the titles of several categories of nursing professionals.’

The spokesperson also anticipated that the changes will be carried forward in the next major review of occupational classifications due in 2030.

Members of RCN congress voted in favour of a call to lobby parliament for legal protection of the nurse title at their annual meeting in June.

RCN nursing and justice forensic committee chair Jess Davidson told attendees at the congress that a Cornish pasty has more naming rights than a nurse.

In November 2021, MPs voted against an amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill to protect the title of nurse in law. Some MPs said the amendment did not address the question of other professions, for example dentistry, that use the term nurse.


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