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BME nurses and midwives more likely to be referred to regulator

But less likely to be struck off/ suspended than white counterparts, research shows

Caroline White

Monday, 10 April 2017

Nurses and midwives from black and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds are more likely to be referred to the nursing regulator than their white counterparts, reveals research* commissioned by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

Employers are the largest source of these referrals which are most likely to progress through to the later stages of the fitness to practice (FtP) process. But BME nurses and midwives are less likely to be struck off or suspended, the findings show.

The research, which was led by Professor West from the University of Greenwich, was commissioned to help identify the extent to which BME nurses and midwives are represented in FtP cases.

The report follows the publication last year of research from the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), showing that BME midwives in London are more likely to face disciplinary proceedings and receive more severe outcomes.

Commenting on the report, Suzanne Tyler, director for services to members at the RCM, said the findings confirmed what the College and others have been saying about this issue.

“Our own research on this has highlighted similar concerns among BME midwives in London. These issues were also raised at a major RCM seminar last year on the experience of BME midwives working in the NHS,” she said.

“This is perhaps an opportunity wasted by the NMC to take a central role in ensuring BME registrants are treated fairly. It would seem from this work that referral of nurses and midwives is inappropriately used by employers in relation to their BME employees. There is a pressing need for all the organisations involved - the NMC, employers, the RCM and others - to work together to stop this happening,” Ms Tyler added.

“The evidence suggests that there is discrimination in the NHS and this needs to be tackled and stopped. The NHS needs to make sure that staff are treated fairly and equitably. Until that happens I fear that we will still be seeing our BME colleagues treated unfairly by their employers and by the system and this is not good enough,” she continued.

In a statement issued alongside the report, the NMC said: “We already undertake a range of work to ensure that our FtP process is fair to all nurses and midwives and that it reflects the diversity of our register. 

“Since this report was undertaken our data has improved, due to the introduction of revalidation, and we have committed to carrying out the research again allowing us to examine a larger dataset.”

* West E, Nayar S, Taskila T, Al-Haboubi M. The Progress and Outcomes of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) Nurses and Midwives through the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s Fitness to Practise Process. NMC Report: January 2017, University of Greenwich.

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