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United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland Research Nurse and Midwife Census 2021

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:

  • Irish Research Nurse and Midwives network

  • The Scottish Research Nurses and Coordinator Network

  • Health and Care Research Wales

  • Northern Ireland CRN


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