Nurses' fury at sexy net image

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FIRST IT was saucy seaside postcards. Then came Carry On Nurse. Now it's the internet that's too spicey.

So worried is the Royal College of Nursing that it is demanding action to protect impressionable youngsters from getting the wrong idea of the profession.

Hospitals are desperate for new recruits. But youngsters scanning the internet for information on the job have been surprised to find just a mention of the word "nurse" conjures up hordes of young women, not all of them in the regulation uniform.

The RCN believes that the sight of so many naked, or semi-clad, bodies could put off potential recruits. And it's not only the youngsters who are at risk. Serving nurses scanning the net for updates on all matters medical have, according to the RCN, been shocked at what they have seen. When it comes to accessing porn that five-letter word beginning with "n" always comes up trumps.

Liz Jenkins, assistant general secretary of the RCN, wants more research to identify ways of censoring the most offensive net sites. The problem is that search engines, the tools used to locate information on the net, have a predilection for uniforms worn in a certain way. Accordingly, they make a beeline for pornography sites regardless of the user's intentions.

Ms Jenkins is outraged. Nurses have historically adopted a position of bored tolerance to the traditional male's fanciable notions of the profession. But a saucy postcard is one thing, interactive sex on the net is quite another.

"As predominantly a profession of women in positions of trust and authority, nurses are particularly exposed to this kind of stereotyping."

Despite great advances in medicine, no one has worked out why uniforms arouse such passions in some people. But there is certainly no solution on the internet.