Research funded by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has shown that a disproportionate number of black and minority ethnic (BME) nurses and midwives undergoing the fitness-to-practise (FtP) process.
The research, 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 and was the first report of its kind for the NMC.
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.’
The report found, the NMC said, ‘that BME nurses and midwives are more likely to be referred to us than their white counterparts.’
Employers were the largest source of referrals and these referrals were most likely to progress through to the later stages of the FtP process.
However, BME nurses and midwives are less likely to be struck off or suspended than white nurses and midwives.
‘Severe and persistent disadvantage’
The Royal College of Nursing’s (RCN) director of membership relations, Chris Cox, said: ‘It’s clear that BME nurses and midwives experience severe and persistent disadvantage in the workplace at a point where the shortage of qualified health professionals becomes more acute.’
He called for urgent, decisive and intelligent action on the part of employers to robustly tackle any form of racism, bias and unfairness in their systems and processes.
Cox promised the RCN would continue to work with the NMC and other agencies to find ways to tackle and eliminate racism across all forms of health care and health care regulatory processes.
The NMC said: ‘We are meeting with patient groups, employers, professional bodies and other regulators and there is a real appetite to understand more about this research and to work together to drive forward positive changes.’