Exploring the dynamics of the nursing and midwifery workforce

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Categories: ADR Scotland, Health & Wellbeing

Written by Jane Barr 6 April 2023

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) requires registrant data to be collected to enable their regulatory functions. This means that nurses and midwives must re-register every three years. The resulting data is a powerful overview of who is in (or leaves) the professions, which can inform policies to better support nurses and midwives.

This registrant data will be used to understand the current profile of the nursing and midwifery professions in the UK, and to understand their dynamics - especially which groups are likely to leave. Findings will be made available through reports and publications, with the intention of informing decision making that benefits nurses, midwives, and the wider public.

Administrative data undoubtedly provides a considerable resource for social research. As challenges from the Covid-19 pandemic persist, and as many novel challenges emerge, the potential of that data is becoming greater. The nursing and midwifery workforce is clearly key to the recovery of the health service. The work outlined here provides scope to support policymakers - whether in the Nursing and Midwifery Council, the health service, social care, or otherwise - in using administrative data to make decisions and develop approaches to ensure the future wellbeing of those in the nursing and midwifery professions across the UK.

The project

This pilot project analyses UK-wide Nursing and Midwifery Council registrant data, as well as population projections by the Ofiice for National Statistics (ONS) and national statistical bodies. It will look at those who are re-registering, as well as those for whom a lack of record indicates that they are no longer on the register (and hence are leaving the profession and workforce).

The objective of the project, in the short term, is to understand the implications of demographic change in the nursing and midwifery workforce. This includes who enters the workforce, how long they remain in the profession, and whether there are geographical differences in retention.

An important part of SCADR's role is to facilitate and encourage widely the safe, secure, and ethical use of anonymised data. To this end, SCADR will be working closely with the Nursing and Midwifery Council and the ONS to develop metadata (information about the data itself), and to explore further uses of this resource.

Potential of the research

The impact and policy potential of the pilot study is considerable. If Nursing and Midwifery Council registrant data was to be linked to other datasets, then crucial, cross-cutting research questions could be answered. For instance, linking Nursing and Midwifery Council registrant data to census data could allow us to analyse broader demographics and social context, or linking it to health and household data may open new routes for research. 


The data source is the Nursing and Midwifery Council. At all points the Nursing and Midwifery Council will remain in control of their data and any work will only be done with their express agreement. They can view the progress of this pilot study by viewing the Open Science Framework (OSF) Home File and Github.

This data will be made available to accredited researchers via the ONS Secure Research Service. This initiative is led by SCADR.

Project details

Project leads: Iain AthertonMichelle JamiesonJan Savinc

This project is funded by ADR Scotland via its core grant from the Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC) as an ADR UK partner.

About the Scottish Centre for Administrative Data Research 

The Scottish Centre for Administrative Data Research (SCADR) analyses data from across the public sector, exploring what linking it in new ways can reveal. It is hosted by the University of Edinburgh but involves academic researchers from across Scotland. SCADR together with the Scottish Government forms ADR Scotland, part of the ADR UK partnership.

Categories: ADR Scotland, Health & Wellbeing

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