Mar 06, 2023

Nurses posting adult content warned patients could recognise them

Nurses posting adult content warned patients could recognise them

Nurses sharing explicit adult content on OnlyFans have been called out by the Nursing and Midwifery Council of New South Wales, who claimed patients could recognise nurses, causing distractions and bringing their profession into disrepute. 

OnlyFans rose to prominence during the COVID-19 pandemic as the content subscription service provided a new avenue for people to secure income while their regular careers were put on hold. 

While it’s not just for adult content, it quickly became an accessible platform for content creators to begin earning money for exclusive adult photos and videos. Many creators used OnlyFans to supplement their income, and have continued to do so.

But now, the Nursing and Midwifery Council has taken aim at nurses and midwives, emailing them to say they could bring the profession into disrepute if they were recognised at work because of their adult content.

“If a practitioner is the content creator, then being recognised or publishing photographs in uniform, they could be reported for their conduct – deemed by the complainant as unprofessional, or as one said, a distraction for patients,” read the email.

“The Social Media guidance is clear on the obligations of nurses and midwives to maintain professional boundaries, and where relevant, the Nursing and Midwifery Board may consider social media use in your private life (even where there is no identifiable link to you as a registered health practitioner) if it raises concerns about your fitness to hold registration.”

Several hypothetical scenarios were also mentioned in the email, including a patient recognising a nurse and telling other people, and a manager who gives a nurse preferential treatment in exchange for “favours”.

However, the Council’s approach has backfired, and they have received criticism for negatively portraying nurses and blaming them if they were found out to be on OnlyFans.

Jarryd Bartle, Associate Lecturer in Criminology and Justice Studies at RMIT Universities, told ABC News that while a second job could breach professional standards for a primary job, he questioned the Council’s approach.

“The Council seems to be hinting in their letter that being on OnlyFans could impact patient care in the event that nurses are recognised on the job,” said Mr Bartle.

“There’s a good question about who’s doing the wrong thing. Is the nurse doing the wrong thing by trying to supplement their income or is the patient doing the wrong thing by harassing a nurse for something unrelated to her current job? 

“If there’s preferential treatment by bosses it’s the misconduct by the boss that seems most relevant, not what the nurse is doing in their own time. 

“It’s unfortunate that the Council is taking the perspective that it’s up to nurses to preempt any of these speculative future scenarios.”

NSW nurses with an OnlyFans account – or have any participation in adult content or sex work – are vulnerable to discrimination, according to Mr Bartle. 

He said the State has weak protection from discrimination based on sex work, unlike Victoria or the Australian Capital Territory, where similar warnings could be illegal.

Mr Bartle expressed his concerns about losing personal time and the need to uphold public relations standards even when a nurse is off-the-clock.

“There is an increasing trend to have quite comprehensive social media policies in different professions,” said Mr Bartle. 

“What’s in those policies differs but there does seem to be increasing concern by employers about what people do off the clock. 

“I do find it concerning… this shift towards being a 24/7 professional.”

Anna Bouchar, Associate Professor of Public Policy and Comparative Politics at the University of Sydney, also said nurses have low-profile jobs and should not be sex shamed for private actions.

“Unless they are a really important figure in the hospital, I don’t really understand why it matters,” said Ms Bouchar to The Guardian

“Does anyone who has a role where other people might see them have to create an alternate reality to be accepted in the workplace? It is unreasonable.”

While the Council has taken to cautioning nurses and midwives about the potential implications of external social media actions, the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association (NWSNMA) said any sexual harassment would not be tolerated. 

Michael Whaites, NWSNMA Assistant General Secretary, said participation in online platforms like OnlyFans does not excuse harassment, discrimination or abuse from managers, employers, customers or patients.

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