Editorial: Research into imbalance in NMC referrals welcome

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Editorial: Research into imbalance in NMC referrals welcome

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Early in 2017 the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) will reveal the findings of its research into why some groups of nurses are more likely to be accused of misconduct.

The research is welcome, because the latest figures show a range of anomalies that are difficult to explain.

It has long been the case that black and male nurses are more likely to be referred to the professional regulator, yet little has been done until now to establish why and take remedial action.

Timely research 

The NMC’s latest equality and diversity report shows that older nurses – by which it means those aged over 40 – are far more likely to find themselves accused of being unfit to practise than their younger counterparts.

In relation to black and male nurses, it is tempting to assume that racism and sexism lie behind the disproportionate number of cases involving these groups. Instinctively, it seems less likely that ageism is so prevalent that nurses in their 40s and 50s are somehow being targeted, although it is reassuring that newly-qualified nurses rarely find themselves in trouble.

There are a whole host of reasons why some nurses might be at greater risk than others of being accused of misconduct, so the NMC’s research is timely, and we need a sophisticated response.

More importantly, the whole profession, including employers and managers, need to unite in reaction to the NMC’s findings to minimise discrimination on any grounds, or better still, eliminate it altogether.