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.
Introducing Nursing Times Learning
Subscribers get five FREE learning units and non-subscribers can access each learning unit for £10 + VAT.
Click on the topics below to get started:
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.