BLOG - The value of collaboration: Unlocking data to better understand the nursing & midwifery workforce

Last month we hosted an event in London to bring together key stakeholders involved in our Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) project, in order to realise the full potential of data for nursing and midwives.

Collaboration is key

The phrase “No person is an island” is especially applicable when developing data linkage projects, such as our ‘Understanding trends and dynamics of recruitment and retention amongst nurses, midwives and nursing associates in the UK'. Indeed data linkage projects can only come to fruition through truly collaborative work. The involvement of so many people in making possible our work at SCADR is testament to that.

On a sunny morning in London on June 5th we had the privilege of meeting at the NMC’s headquarters in Portland Place, London, together with many stakeholders who are enabling our ambitions, towards better understanding trends and dynamics of recruitment and retention amongst our nurses, midwives and nursing associates. We were delighted to have involvement from across all 4 nations within the UK, representing the NMC, the Office for National Statistics (ONS), government, academia, and, most importantly, representatives from the profession themselves.

Event Overview

The meeting had two objectives:

  • to further raise the profile of SCADR research work, as well as ADR Scotland's contribution; and
  • to encourage thinking as to what might be achieved through administrative data using nursing and midwifery data.

We started by hearing from the NMC as to its ambitions for this project and their commitment to maximising the insights from its data. I then provided an overview, including key issues facing our professions, especially around retention and recruitment, initial analysis envisaged and the linkage of registrant data being taken forward by our colleagues in the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The discussions that followed and the partnerships that were built are key reasons for these meetings. This meeting was no exception! We were delighted that there was considerable interest in the analysis planned that will ascertain the range of jobs nurses, midwives and nursing associates do, something we will be able to ascertain thanks to the linkage being taken forward of registrant to census data for England and Wales. This has been a key question asked often of us when meeting with policy colleagues. What came across from this specific meeting was the value to the professions of demonstrating just how much nurses and midwives do beyond clinical practice.

Another action, was to look at further innovation – our ADR UK colleagues considered what other datasets could be used to help to understand the nursing and midwifery professions? One example was the LEO dataset, which links together educational and employment data for England. Following discussions some stakeholders wondered about the potential to use that data to understand transitions into nursing and midwifery degrees, and then on into clinical practice, which we will investigate further.

Moving forward

As a result of the positive energy and enthusiasm in the meeting, our research team has come away even more excited by what might be possible, and of the contribution that can be made to support nurses, midwives and nursing associates. We look forward to convening more meetings in the future, within each UK nation and are investigating different ways in which we can create a community of interest in this area.

Huge thanks to all who have collaborated thus far to commence the work and to everyone who is taking an interest in this project and what it can achieve.

This article was published on 20 Jul 2023

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Iain Atherton