Nurse and midwifery census data

What is the Census for Registered Clinical Research Nurses and Midwives?

The NIHR 70@70 Senior Nurse and Midwife Research Leaders  in collaboration with the devolved nation research nursing and midwifery leads and the Irish Research Nurse and Midwives Network,  launched a national scoping ‘census’ across the UK & Ireland in Autumn 2021. The census aimed to understand the true size of our research nursing and midwifery workforce through self-reporting of those within this community. This is the first time the NIHR has attempted to identify the size of this community.

Why is a research nursing and midwifery census important? 

Dr Catherine Henshall, Director of the 70@70 programme and Associate Director of Nursing and Midwifery for the NIHR, said: “Research nurses and midwives are a huge part of the nursing and midwifery workforce but what we didn’t know is exactly how many there are across the UK.  So, the 70@70 group decided that it would be a really good idea to focus their efforts on trying to identify this.”

The short survey not only looked at the size of the workforce but the breadth and depth of research nursing and midwifery roles across sectors and specialities. The baseline data is now being analysed  to determine where the gaps are and what the patterns are.

“Depending on the patterns in the data, we’ll be able to go back to research nurses and midwives and get more detailed information to see what we need to do in terms of supporting the workforce going forward,” said Dr Henshall.

Research nurses and midwives across the UK and Ireland

The census shows there are at least 7,469 clinical research nurses and midwives across the UK and Ireland. It is worth noting that as the census was self-reported , the actual figure is likely to be  higher. This number includes research nurses and midwives working across numerous sectors including health and social care, commercial industry and academia. 

Breakdown by country

Across the UK and Ireland: 7,469 clinical research nurses and midwives 

7,022 Clinical Research Nurses 

413 Clinical Research Midwives 

34  Clinical Research Nurse and Midwives (dual post)

England: 6,355 

5,973 (93.9%) Clinical Research Nurses

353 (5.5%) Clinical Research Midwives

Ireland: 157

141 (89.8) Clinical Research Nurses

15 (9.55%) Clinical Research Midwives

Scotland: 588

564 (95.9%) Clinical Research Nurses

22 (3.74%) Clinical Research Midwives

Wales: 265

245 (92.45%) Clinical Research Nurses

20 (7.55%) Clinical Research Midwives

Northern Ireland: 104

99 (95.19%) Clinical Research Nurses

3 (2.88%) Clinical Research Midwives

NIHR 70@70 Senior Research Nurse Leader Claire Whitehouse said: “Our census tells us how enormous our research nurse and midwife community is. There are scores of people working incredibly hard day and night bringing new treatments and medicine alongside their healthcare colleagues. Research nurses and midwives are making a difference to the health of people across the UK and Ireland.”

Breadth and depth of a career in research

Significantly, the census shows that a third (33.7%) of nurses work in joint posts, for example as a clinical research nurse for part of their role as well as a clinical nurse specialist. Such dual roles may offer NHS nursing and midwifery staff rich and varied experience that brings considerable extra value to both their colleagues and patients. The census also shows that 72% work within a disease or area specialism, while 28% reported covering multiple disease areas.

Breakdown by country 

Number who identified as being in a joint post

UK and Ireland: 2,522 (33.7%)

England: 2,240 (35.25%)

Ireland: 88 (56.05%) 

Scotland: 126 (21%)

Wales: 75 (28.3%)

Northern Ireland: 23 (22%)

Number identifying as working within specific specialisms

UK and Ireland: 5,383 (72.07%)

England: 4676 (73.58%)

Ireland: 106 (67.52%)

Scotland: 387 (65.82%)

Wales: 150 (56.5%)

Northern Ireland: 64 (61.54%)

Developing a research nursing and midwifery career

The census reveals that nurses and midwives are working at every level in healthcare from Bands 5 – 9 in the UK, and from staff nurse to Directors of Nursing or Midwifery in the Republic of Ireland. This suggests there are opportunities to join the profession at every level, with continued potential for career progression.

Breath of grades

UK wide: 7312

Band 5 – 371 (5.07%)

Band 6 – 4,836 (66.14%)

Band 7 + (inclusive)- 1,284 (17.56%)

Ireland: 123

Junior staff nurse – 13 (10.57%)

Senior Staff nurse - 11 (8.94%)

CNM 1 – 49 (39.84%)

CNM 2 – 42 (34.15%)

CNM 3 + (inclusive)- 8 (6.5%)

Mixed (of total no. 7,469) 

University post – 678 (9.08%) 

Private/industry sector - 146 (1.95%) 

Other – 31 (0.42%)

NIHR Director of Nursing & Midwifery Ruth Endacott said: “Being a research nurse or midwife is an amazing and fulfilling career. We want research nurses and midwives to know they are valued, recognise themselves as part of the wider research community and have opportunities to grow and develop in research.”

The NIHR supports the development of a skilled clinical academic research workforce across nursing and midwifery through our NIHR Nursing and Midwifery Incubator programme and by offering research training awards through our HEE/NIHR Integrated Clinical Academic (ICA) Programme and NIHR Fellowships Programme. 

Research support networks also exist across Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales: