NMC publishes findings of new equality, diversity and inclusion research

Published on 20 October 2020

Today, the Nursing and Midwifery Council has published ‘Ambitious for change: research into NMC processes and people’s protected characteristics.’

This is a key part of the professional regulator’s research into how a person’s protected characteristics, like gender, ethnicity or age, affects their experience of NMC processes.

The research examined NMC processes - including education, overseas registration, revalidation and fitness to practise - and has identified disparities in people’s experience and outcomes, depending on who they are.

Key findings include:

Fitness to practise

  • Nurses and midwives from a Black and minority ethnic background are more likely to be referred to fitness to practise by employers, while White professionals are more likely to be referred by the public.
  • 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 our register compared to female and non-disabled professionals.
  • Those living in the Channel Islands, Isle of Man, or whose region of the UK we don’t know are more likely to be referred than professionals living in other areas of the UK, the EU and outside of it.

Registration and revalidation

  • Black applicants are less likely to complete our overseas registration process than those from other ethnicities (of the 25.5 per cent Black applicants, only 9.7 were able to successfully register).
  • Applicants whose gender and/or gender identity we didn’t know were also less likely to register. 
  • Nursing and midwifery professionals living outside the UK and EEA are less likely to successfully complete revalidation.


  • Black and Asian students are less likely to be accepted onto NMC-approved nursing and midwifery courses.

Today’s research follows an earlier report from 2017, which looked at differences in the progress and outcomes for Black and minority ethnic professionals in the fitness to practise process. The differences identified in today’s research also mirror those experienced by other health and care professionals, including doctors, dentists and social workers.

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.”





1. The full report is available on our website here: https://www.nmc.org.uk/ambitious-for-change
2. An advisory group of professionals, partners and equality, diversity and inclusion specialists helped to direct and shape this research.
3. Ambitious for change: research into NMC processes and people’s protected characteristics forms part of the NMC’s Together in Practice initiative, aimed at understanding and addressing inequality and discrimination and celebrating the contribution of the diverse professionals and colleagues.
4. Other Together in Practice initiatives including, Rising together, an internal inclusive mentoring programme for people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds, the adopting of the workforce race equality standard (WRES) at the NMC and a new policy on gender markers launching in trans awareness week.
For further media enquiries, please contact the NMC press office on 0207 681 5894 or email us.

Other recent news…

Research finds systemic inequalities are driving disparities in regulation

Published on 01 August 2022

We have published the second phase of our Ambitious for Change research.

31,000 responses to English language consultation so far

Published on 28 July 2022

Just over halfway through the consultation on our English language requirements, we’ve received more than 31,000 responses – a record number for any NMC consult

Our review of the year: progress made and work still to do

Published on 26 July 2022

We’ve published our review of the past year, detailing our work to promote and uphold the highest professional standards in nursing and midwifery.