Royal College of Nursing (RCN)

Gender, diversity, pay and working conditions in nursing.

Nursing in the UK is at the crux of a crisis that has been building for many years. Nurses are working at breaking point, with low pay and under difficult conditions. The aim of this research project is to examine issues at the heart of gender, diversity, pay and working conditions within nursing, to help the sector better respond to the rising challenges within the profession.

The work is being carried out by the Centre for Diversity Policy Research and Practice (CDPRP) at Oxford Brookes following a competitive call to tender from the Royal College of Nursing (RCN). The RCN represents nurses and nursing, to promote excellence in practice and campaigns to help shape health policies. The work carried out by CDPRP at Oxford Brookes will form part of the evidence base that will help substantiate campaigns to shape future policy.

Nursing is under pressure from the demands of an ageing population, the removal of nursing training bursaries in England and with concerns that many nurses currently working in the UK originate from European countries and face the unknown impacts of Brexit.

The work looks at the nursing profession from both a gender and diversity perspective. This means understanding how nursing has been constructed as a highly feminised occupation, but also identifying how factors such as age or ethnic background may affect pay and working conditions. The work of the CDPRP includes qualitative research interviews with senior stakeholders, as well as an analysis of the RCN’s annual Employment Survey and other data sources. The work began in September 2018 and the results will be delivered at the RCN Congress event in Liverpool in May 2019 with the follow-up report being published in the summer.

A group of nurses walking down a hallway

“CDPRP’s bid absolutely stood out for me in terms of their knowledge of the subject area and their approach to the work. I have continued to be impressed working closely with them on the project, not only their expertise but the whole team's commitment to understanding the RCN’s needs as a professional trade union. This is a hugely important project for the RCN as it sets out to understand and define, for the first time, the consequences and outcomes for nurses working in a historically feminised workforce.”

Rachael McIlroy, Senior Research Lead, Employment Relations, RCN

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Directorate of Research, Innovation and Enterprise

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