Hospital patients could be placed at risk because a new online essay service might tempt trainee nurses to cheat their way through university, plagiarism experts have warned.
The website - called nursing-essays.com - was launched last month as a service that provides "a selection of high-quality model nursing essays, which are perfect for nursing students everywhere looking for a helping hand".
The site includes a strong warning that its pre-written essays must be used for guidance only and not copied. It condemns plagiarism.
But critics have warned that the service may encourage trainee nurses to cheat.
Duncan Williamson, an education consultant, told a plagiarism e-mail discussion forum that he had written to the website's owner, Eternity Publishing, to complain.
He said: "I wrote a message along these lines: 'Can you imagine the situation in which you arrive at a hospital in need of critical care and one of the nurses whom you have encouraged to cheat is put in charge of your case?'
"'That nurse may just be working on you in the area in which he or she cheated and is consequently not that good at it. You could then lose your life, your sight or your career.'"
George McDonald Ross, a philosophy lecturer at Leeds University and an expert on plagiarism, told the forum: "Eternity Publishing. The quickest way to eternity is to be tended by nurses who used it to get their qualifications."
The website includes a message from "Jane", who is described as a "graduate nurse", that says the essays can be downloaded "and then used as a helpful guide to writing your own".
Essays are available for £6.99 each and, according to the website, all have achieved a mark of 71 per cent or more.
Anthony Hull of Eternity Publishing, which is based in a business park in Hampton Wick, Surrey, said: "We do not and will never support plagiarism, and this is stated clearly in our terms and conditions section on our website.
"Nursing-essays.com provides model essays to be used as a guide, not to be copied entirely."
The Royal College of Nursing said no one was available for comment.