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Ambitious for change: research into NMC processes and people’s protected characteristics

Our research Ambitious for change focuses on the different outcomes professionals going through our regulatory processes receive, and if this changes if someone has certain protected characteristics like their gender, ethnicity or age.

We value the diversity of the people on our register, and we have to ensure our processes are fair and accessible to them all.

This is a key part of our research into how a person’s protected characteristics, like gender, ethnicity or age, affects their experience of NMC processes. We've already come a long way, but there's still a long road ahead of us to break down some of the barriers that people face.

Read Ambitious for change

Read a summary of Ambitious for change (Cymraeg)

Why we decided to do this research

In 2017 we published research into the progress and outcomes of black and minority ethnic nurses and midwives through our fitness to practise processes.

This research, and subsequent data published in our annual equality and diversity reports, showed that there are differences by protected characteristics both in the risk of referral to us, and in fitness to practise outcomes. We have used this knowledge to develop new ways of working in fitness to practise.

Following this, we wanted to understand if professionals with different protected characteristics received different outcomes and had different experiences of our other processes (beyond fitness to practice) and why.

What Ambitious for change tells us

Our research shows that sometimes people receive different outcomes from our processes based on who they are. This includes differences in our education, overseas registration, revalidation and fitness to practise processes. We found that people with certain protected characteristics like gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation, have different experiences and outcomes in these areas.

Many of the disparities outlined in our research are similar to the findings of partner organisations researching the experiences of other health and social care professionals, such as doctors, dentists and social workers.

Download and read Ambitious for change: research into NMC processes and people's protected characteristics

We've already begun to take actions to help address this, which include:

  • Improving our overseas registration process to streamline our requirements to confirm candidates’ competence, improve our guidance and enable applicants to apply online
  • We've made changes to revalidation in response to an independent evaluation.
  • We've overhauled our approach to fitness to practise to put people at the heart of the process and place a greater emphasis on remediation, learning and considering the context in which incidents occur.

But we know we need to do more to understand the reasons behind our findings and take more action to address them.

How we've involved stakeholders

In August 2019, we put together a new advisory group to help us with our research.

This group includes selected equality, diversity and inclusion representatives from a diverse range of organisations and from across the UK.

Our advisory group helps us by making sure we look at the right things, understand what we find correctly, and come up with effective and suitable actions to address these findings.

We'll continue to involve our stakeholders in health and social care throughout our journey to get their guidance and help moving forward.

Our next steps

We know we need to do more to address these findings. We'll be commissioning independent research to understand people's perceptions and experiences of revalidation and why some groups are referred to fitness to practice more than others; and an independent review of cases in those processes that we were unable to include in our analysis.

Some of the issues we find, we won't be able to fix alone. We know it's important that we work with our partners, including other regulators, to understand Ambitious for change and any future research. By working together, we'll be able to make decisions that will support the future health and social care workforce.

It's also important to recognise that we carried out our research before Covid-19. The pandemic has changed an enormous amount for nurses, midwives and nursing associates across the country. We'll use this report as a baseline to monitor the impacts of Covid-19 on nurses, midwives and nursing associates.

Find out more

We'll keep updating this information when each phase of research is complete.

On Monday 30 November, we're hosting a webinar which will be a chance to find out more about the research and ask us any questions. 

Register here

We’re keen to hear your reflections on these findings and any ideas you have for what further action we can take in response. Please email us if you have any questions or comments about this work.