Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) report highlights BAME nurses as disproportionately impacted by fitness to practise referrals and proceedings. 

The report, ‘Ambitious for change: research into NMC processes and people’s protected characteristics’ examined NMC’s processes, including education, overseas registration, revalidation and fitness to practise.  The report has identified a number of disparities in people’s experience and outcomes, “depending on who they are.” 

Key findings of the report, in so far as it relates to the NMC’s fitness to practise processes were: 

  • Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) data reports show disproportionate referrals of disabled professionals and those of certain age groups and ethnicities, compared to the proportions on the register.
  • Nurses and midwives who were Black, Asian or Other ethnicity, or those whose ethnicity we don’t know, were referred in higher proportions by their employers. White professionals were referred in higher proportions by members of the public and people who use services.
  • Black practitioners are more likely to see their case go to the adjudication stage, although they’re not more likely to be removed from the register than white nurses and midwives.
  • Male nurses and midwives, and disabled nurses and midwives, are more likely to go to the adjudication stage of fitness to practise and be removed from the register compared to female and non-disabled professionals.
  • Those living in the Channel Islands, Isle of Man are more likely to be referred than professionals living in other areas of the UK, the EU and outside of it.

Key findings of other areas of the report also include:

  • Black and Asian students are less likely to be accepted onto NMC-approved nursing and midwifery courses.
  • Nursing and midwifery professionals living outside the UK and EEA are less likely to successfully complete revalidation.

What did the NMC say?

Andrea Sutcliffe CBE, Chief Executive and Registrar for the NMC said:

“We all deserve to be treated with respect and kindness and to live without fear of discrimination, no matter our race, religion, gender or any other aspect of our identity. Today’s research has shown that people are still treated differently throughout our processes, depending on who they are – and that’s got to change.

“While we don’t yet fully understand all of the reasons why, we’re committed to being a driving force for positive change – which is why we’ll now be carrying out further research to understand the reasons behind the disparities we’ve identified so far so we can take appropriate action. 

“We’ve come a long way, having already taken a number of steps to improve how people experience our services. This includes major changes to our fitness to practise process to promote a culture of openness and learning – while also streamlining our overseas registration process to make things quicker, simpler and more cost effective for applicants.

“But we recognise there’s still more work to do to better understand and break down the barriers we know some people face. And whatever issues we uncover, we’re aware we won’t be able to solve everything on our own. I look forward to us using the insight from this and our future research to collaborate with our partners to help tackle discrimination and create the kind of positive, long-lasting change we need at the NMC and across the health and social care sector.”

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The “real prospect” test – the standard by which you will be judged

The test applied to determine if your fitness to practise investigation will be referred to a full hearing is called the “real prospect” test.


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