NHS trusts hiring non-nurses for nursing roles

NHS trusts hiring non-nurses for nursing roles

Royal College of Nursing says recruiting people without the correct qualifications puts patients at risk.

The RCN said the employment of non-nurses to work as nurses in hospitals and mental health facilities “should set alarm bells ringing with ministers” and would lead to worse care. They found examples where employers have formally opened registered nurse vacancies to people without registered nursing qualifications, or from different professional backgrounds, including physiotherapy and occupational therapy.

One advert for a matron post responsible for older people’s mental health and learning disability services was open to a “registered professional clinician with demonstrable evidence of working at senior level” but did not say it required NMC registration and another for a band 5 staff nurse required the post holder to be an “RGN/RN or hold an equivalent Allied Health Professional Qualification”, meaning that applications from physiotherapists and occupational therapists would be considered.

“Filling registered nurse vacancies with those who are not registered nurses is not filling those vacancies,” said RCN Acting General Secretary & Chief Executive Pat Cullen. “Acting in this way not only leads to vacancies elsewhere but also carries a risk to patient care.

Peter Walsh, chief executive of the patient safety charity Action against Medical Accidents, said that while multidisciplinary team working is an important part of care, “it is worrying for patient safety if there is this trend of recruiting people to what should be nursing roles who are not qualified nurses. There has been no consultation about this as far as I am aware, least of all with the people most affected – patients and their families.”

The recruitment practices of NHS trusts were defended by NHS England.

Further details can be found on the RCN website.


The Safer Healthcare and Biosafety Network is supported by the following organisations.

  • UK HSA
  • Boston Scientific
  • Stryker
  • Unison
  • RCN
  • phs
  • NHS Wales
  • NHS Supply Chain
  • NHS Resolution
  • NHS Improvement
  • NHS England
  • NHS Employers
  • NHS Confederation
  • iosh
  • HSE
  • CQC
  • BMA
  • BDIA
  • BDA
  • ABHI