Believe it or not, anyone in the UK can legally call themselves a nurse. Unlike protected titles such as doctor and paramedic, one does not legally have to have the qualifications to use the ‘nurse’ title. This can be seen in certain hospital teams such as emergency and cancer care where employees providing a care-based service are using the title ‘nurse practitioner’ despite not having the qualifications. There have even been so-called cosmetic ‘nurses’ administering lip fillers and performing procedures without any registration. This opens up a can of worms for the medical field as people put their trust in ‘cowboys’ believing they are qualified and safe nurses who have the right to practice.
In June 2021, thousands signed a petition calling for the nursing profession to be protected. Not only will this hopefully change the way in which people can use the nursing title but it aims to raise awareness amongst the general public. People should not assume a ‘practitioner’ is safe because they call themselves a nurse. If you’re looking for a private procedure, make sure you check their qualifications, do some research to see if the person on the other end of that syringe is safe to do so.
The real concern many have is that former nurses can still continue to keep their title even if they have been struck off the register. This can deceive a lot of people who would assume their ‘nurse’ is legally allowed to practice. Without protection, the title can be abused and nurses feel it is about time that their profession received the recognition it deserves.
The rise of ‘dodgy’ cosmetic procedures are a real cause for concern. Procedures like teeth whitening should only be offered by a trained dental professional but are popping up in salons and shopping centre kiosks up and down the country. These procedures, if done incorrectly, can cause injury and have long lasting effects on patient health. Not only that, but there is a real concern about hygiene and the risks of cross-contamination are much more likely in unorthodox dental environments. Unsuspecting members of the public could be putting their health at risk because they believe a self-named nurse has their best interests at heart.
Not all ‘self-proclaimed’ nurses are working illegally, many are employed within reputable organisations. The real issue here is that not all employers hire qualified individuals for nursing’ roles. Ofcourse, if these nurses are required to perform certain procedures, then they will need the necessary qualifications, but those who perform more general assistant care roles will still be allowed to use the title despite not having qualifications. This needs to change and nurses are determined to get the recognition that they deserve.
The public rely on their nurses and doctors to give them the best advice and put their trust in their abilities to help them. If the title remains unregulated, it not only puts patient safety at risk but devalues the years of hard work and skill that dental nurses have dedicated their lives to.
The title ‘dental nurse’ is currently protected but it hasn’t always been this way and nurses have had to fight to defend their title. There have been petitions calling for the title to return to ‘dental surgery assistant’ which has felt like a slap in the face. Now is the time for the government to protect the nursing title and show nurses everywhere how important their roles are.