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Male nurses more likely to be sanctioned by NMC


A male nurse or midwife is four times as likely as a female to be sanctioned by the Nursing and Midwifery Council, fitness to practise data shows.

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The latest data on referrals to the NMC’s fitness to practise panel was presented to its council last week and was broken down by gender for the first time.

Despite making up just 11 per cent of the registered nursing workforce, men formed 23 per cent of referrals and 42 per cent of those removed from the register in 2009-10.

Men also made up more than a third of the interim suspension orders issued that year.

A male nurse manager at one trust told Nursing Times: “I can’t believe men are more naughty than women. Historically most of the men in nursing have been in the mental health or learning difficulties sectors, around 70 per cent. It would be interesting if the NMC could break this down by area of practice.”

The NMC figures do not include which sector of the NHS allegations came from so it is not possible to tell if the disproportionate number of male nurses receiving sanctions is due to any disproportionate number of complaints coming from mental health settings, for example.

The NMC said because it had no “robust evidence” on the gender difference “it would be unwise for anyone to draw a conclusion that male nurses pose a higher risk to patients than female nurses”.

In a statement a spokesman said: “We recognise that some nurses and midwives do pose a higher risk to patients or may operate in an environment where there is a lack of independent evidence confirming good practice. 

The NMC is developing an effective revalidation process which will identify those groups that may pose a higher risk to patients so as to enable this risk to be effectively and proactively managed”.

The Department of Health said it would “liaise closely” with the NMC over the issue.

The figures also show the number of referrals to the council’s fitness to practise panel has more than doubled in two years.

In 2007-08 there were 1,478 allegations. This rose slightly in 2008-09 but hit 2,988 in 2009-10.


Readers' comments (43)

  • I'm sorry but if these figures were reversed and in another industry, there would be mass calls of sexism an I'm sure a lot of court cases swiftly following that!

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  • Have to agree with Mike.
    I once worked on a ward where a female member of staff kept touching me and making suggestive comments to both myself and male patients. I complained to the manager and also took it up directly with the nurse concerned. I was told to forget it and just take it as a joke. But if I was to do this to a female colleague or patient I would be repremanded and disciplined.

    So as usual it's one rule for one and another rule for men.

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  • yangqing

    HI, Mike and Anonymous
    I am a nurse, at this moment, doing a research study on Male nurses in female gendered profession. Both of you could make excellent cases study for my FD project. I wonder if you would like to be contacted for an informal interview in your convenient time, regarding your working experiences as a male nurse. I will be absolutely honored if you say 'yes',however, do ignore my request for whatever reasons, I understand and must apologize first for this intrusion.

    I am looking forward to hearing your response on my email:


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  • I would urge the NMC to look carefully at these figures and not bury their heads in the sand, particularly where if they can be bothered they may identify a trend whether it be in the disciplines or sub-disciplines where there are disproportionate incidences that precipitate disciplinary or fitness to practice proceedings.

    Mistakes have been made in the past both by individual practitioners, their managers and by the NMC itself in its handling of fitness to practice proceedings. Unfortunately the NMC (as everyone who pays for registration knows) is a law to itself and appears to answer to no one, a fact that was amply pointed out when its intitutional bad practice was reported upon in the House of Commons a few years ago.

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  • Anonymous | 6-Jul-2010 1:13 pm, I absolutely agree. I wonder if there is a case to ask wether they are actively discriminating against males in these hearings (or even bringing them to that level)?

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  • Helen, no problem I have emailed you.

    And Anonymous | 6-Jul-2010 8:41 am, this sexism is part of the norm. It is the sheer level of hypocrisy in women in these matters that annoys me more than anything.

    It does go far deeper than this though, it is institutional.

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  • The NMC is not fit for purpose as it has shown on many occasions eg the way they shot the messenger M Haywood struck off for reporting bad practice and others being kept waiting for their cases to be heard, already very distressed by the false allegations brought against them and the way their trusts had taken so long to investigate, ignore their defence and then find them guilty and dismiss them.
    We have had numbers of men contact CAUSE (Campaign Against Unnecessary/Unjust Suspensions and Exclusions UK) who have had allegations made against them by patients with a record of false allegations of staff. It has suited their employers to ‘believe’ the allegations and uphold the complaint, ridding themselves of an outspoken member of staff and destroying their staff member in the process.
    It seems the NMC will never change.
    Julie Fagan CAUSE founder member

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  • I also see the double standard when it comes to Men in Nursing. I have only been practicing for about 3 years but, in my short time I have been told flat out that "Men do not belong in Nursing", and that was by a Clinical Nursing Instructor. I work in ICU and PCU and most of the Nurses I work with get along great with me. But, I sit quietly and listen to them talk about their sex lives and tell the raunchiest jokes, as well as the advances that Anonymous was talking about. I try to be as friendly as I can without being too friendly or crossing that line which could be misconstrued as flirting. I know that I have to be careful with female patients as well and if I sense that a patient is becoming to "familiar" then I will ask for a reassignment. I have not had a complaint against me and as long as I keep my eyes open and watch my surroundings I plan to be an effective Nurse and Team member for many years to come.

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  • Julie, I don't think I have ever heard of Cause? Have you taken any action against the NMC or to protect Nurses? I would be particularly interested to know if you (or your orgainsation I should say) has helped/tried to help men who have been unfairly discriminated against?

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  • Anonymous | 6-Jul-2010 11:52 pm, I hear what you are saying mate, I think that it is despicable that we have to watch our backs like this though.

    Personally I have absolutely no problem with female colleagues discussing sex lives or who they fancy or a bit of flirty banter. It does not interest me in the slightest as I am in a loving relationship, but I have no problem with it occuring. What annoys me is when the opposite happens and it is MEN indulging in this behaviour, all of a sudden it is innapropriate?!!

    Then there is the fact that if I do have a female patient, especially a younger woman nearer my own age I have to be chaperoned? I know this is partly for my protection but I have never seen a hint or a suggestion that a female Nurse has to be chaperoned to treat a male patient! And this comes on top of not being able to do certain procedures 'because I am a man!'

    And I too have been told that men do not belong in Nursing. I have even had it suggested that it is wrong for men to treat female patients or give them a wash etc, because (and I quote) 'we are all after a bit of a perve, aren't we?' I have even been told as a student that my communication skills are not up to scratch because (again I quote) 'as a man I am instantly threatening to female patients because I have a deep voice and I am over 6"2!!' (You can imagine the response my mentor got for that!)

    I actually had a friend who transfered to midwifery in the first year of training, and he actually got removed from a placement because the ward sister would not have a male midwife on her team! I mean seriously, how is this tolerated?

    Sexism is alive and well and it is perpetrated by women!

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