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The NMC Independent Culture Review: A Glimpse into the Experiences of Black Nurses

The recent Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) Independent Culture Review has highlighted the realities Black nurses and staff face within the organisation.

As one of the largest healthcare regulators in the world, the NMC's role is crucial in upholding standards and ensuring the public's safety. However, this latest review has exposed significant challenges and deep-seated issues of racism and discrimination that undermine its mission.

The report doesn't mince words in acknowledging the presence of structural racism within the NMC. Despite having policies that theoretically promote equality, diversity, and inclusion, there remains a significant gap between these commitments and the lived experiences of Black nurses and staff.

This disconnect highlights the pervasive nature of structural racism that is deeply embedded in the organisation's organisation's practices and culture. The review gathered extensive evidence through surveys, interviews, and focus groups, revealing a troubling pattern of discrimination and mistreatment faced by Black nurses and staff.

Many individuals have experienced being passed over for promotions, denied career development opportunities, and subjected to microaggressions and overtly racist comments.

One particularly harrowing account detailed a recruitment panel where a Black nurse overheard a colleague referring to candidates with non-English names as "garbage." Such blatant racism not only devalues the contributions of Black nurses but also perpetuates a hostile work environment.

The report also highlighted instances of bullying, which were disturbingly common among Black and ethnic minority staff. The constant stress of navigating a toxic work environment has had severe impacts on the mental health of many Black nurses, with some resorting to antidepressants and others leaving the profession entirely.

In a heartbreaking revelation, the review noted that six registrants undergoing the Fitness to Practise process had taken their own lives in the past year, underscoring the critical need for compassionate and fair treatment.

Despite the existence of grievance policies, the review found that these mechanisms were often ineffective in addressing complaints of racism and discrimination. Many Black nurses lacked trust in the grievance process, fearing retaliation or believing their concerns would not be taken seriously.

The review uncovered several alarming incidents that highlight the severity of the issues within the NMC:

  • Racial Insensitivity: Incidents where Black staff were subjected to racially insensitive comments and jokes, undermining their sense of belonging and safety.

  • Career Stagnation: Black nurses and staff repeatedly reported being overlooked for promotions and development opportunities, with some experiencing blatant favouritism and cronyism.

  • Health Impact: The toxic work environment has led to significant health issues among Black staff, including stress-related illnesses, hair loss, and severe mental health challenges.

The report also calls for an end-to-end review of the NMC's policies and procedures to ensure they are free from bias and discrimination.

The NMC Independent Culture Review is a crucial step towards acknowledging and addressing the challenges Black nurses and staff face within the organisation. However, the true measure of its impact will be seen in implementing its recommendations and the following tangible changes.

For the NMC, this report is a call to action. It is an opportunity to rebuild trust, foster a genuinely inclusive culture, and ensure that every nurse and midwife, regardless of race, can thrive and contribute to protecting public health.

Equality 4 Black Nurses

As we reflect on this review's findings, it is clear that there is much work to be done. The experiences of Black nurses must not only be heard but also acted upon.

Only through sustained commitment and concrete actions can the NMC hope to fulfil its mission of upholding the highest standards in nursing and midwifery.

We invite you to join Equality 4 Black Nurses, a dedicated organisation advocating for the rights, recognition, and fair treatment of Black nurses across the healthcare sector. By becoming a member, you can support initiatives that aim to:

  • Ensure equitable career opportunities and progression for Black nurses.

  • Provide a platform for Black nurses to share their experiences and advocate for change.

  • Promote anti-racist practices and policies within healthcare organisations.

  • Offer support and resources to Black nurses facing discrimination and bullying.

At the heart of creating a truly inclusive healthcare system is recognising and valuing Black nurses. Their contributions are indispensable to the fabric of healthcare, bringing diverse perspectives, skills, and experiences that enhance patient care and enrich the nursing profession.

  • Recognising Excellence: Black nurses demonstrate unwavering dedication, compassion, and professionalism. Their hard work must be acknowledged and celebrated within the workplace.

  • Ensuring Fair Treatment: Every Black nurse deserves to work in an environment free from discrimination and bias. Equal opportunities for career advancement, professional development, and leadership roles must be a standard, not an exception.

  • Fostering a Supportive Environment: It is crucial to create a supportive and inclusive work culture where Black nurses feel valued and respected. This includes providing adequate resources to address mental health, promoting work-life balance, and ensuring their voices are heard and acted upon.

  • Promoting Leadership and Representation: Increasing the representation of Black nurses in leadership positions is vital. Their insights and experiences are essential in shaping policies and practices that reflect the diverse needs of the communities they serve.

We can create a healthcare environment that truly values diversity and inclusivity. Join us in our mission to make a difference. Visit Equality 4 Black Nurses today and become part of the change we all need.

The road to equity is long, but with collective effort and unwavering commitment, we can build a future where every nurse is valued and respected for their contributions, regardless of race. Let's work together to ensure the NMC and other healthcare organisations become true exemplars of fairness and inclusion.

909 views7 comments




I love this article because it says it all, I am a black nurse, where ever I suggest an innovation, no one follows up, management ignores it, HCA decline to follow but when a white nurse speaks, everyone is signing praises and followed including management... I have a passion in providing an effective care for our patients but this kind of Working dynamics makes it difficult, I can't fight but leave... cause I feel like isn't worth fighting when no one stands on your side...



Excellent article. I stay awake at night gripped by the realisation that Black people in the UK are so vulnerable and powerless. I work under Eastern European ward managers, some of who are 10x times more racist and sadistic towards Black people. They are not above getting Eastern European men to intimidate me outside work. I don't think Black staff in the NHS realise just how bad things are for us and this report will not change that. No one is coming to save us.


Mariam Elmi
Mariam Elmi

This has highlighted what we’ve all known , insituational internal racism , so what will they do next with this information ?



Nmc has done more harm than good with every black nurse case referred to them. This is our reality.



I resigned from Bolton hospital because of their racism towards black people it's very alarming, now I'm scared for my daughter going into this profession.

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