The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has commissioned a review of its fitness to practise cases in a bid to tackle differences in the experiences and outcomes of nurses from diverse backgrounds.

The research found, for example, that professionals who are men, Black, disabled, or whose sexual orientation we don’t know, are more likely to progress through the stages of our fitness to practise process.

The NMC commissioned the University of Greenwich to review a sample of fitness to practise cases that closed between September 2019 and September 2023. This will enable it to better understand why these differences exist and whether bias or discrimination contribute to the disparities we’re seeing.

The review will also examine the NMC’s current policies and guidance, and assess whether they effectively promote equality within our fitness to practise processes. The NMC said it will use these findings to improve its regulatory role and ensure our fitness to practise practices are as fair as possible for everyone.

There were also disparities in the groups of professionals referred to us by employers. In particular, the NMC found that some employers appear to refer a higher proportion of male and/or Black professionals compared to the proportion on the NMC register, and sometimes compared to the demographics of their own local workforces.

UK Fitness to Practise News

Matthew McClelland, NMC Executive Director of Strategy and Insight, said:

“Every nurse, midwife and nursing associate needs to feel respected, valued and supported so they can deliver the best care possible for people. That includes every aspect of their working lives, including on those occasions when professionals are referred to our fitness to practise process.

“We’re speaking to employers to understand why there can be disparities in some groups of professionals who are referred to us as well as looking at why those groups experience our regulatory processes differently. This work will help us work towards being a fairer, more inclusive regulator. We’ll keep people informed as the work progresses.”

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