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EDITOR’S COMMENT

'A possible NMC fee hike will not prove popular with registrants who feel let down'

  • 56 Comments

The news that a possible fee hike could be on the cards at the Nursing and Midwifery Council will not be proving popular with registrants who feel let down by their regulator in recent years.

But if it is to tackle a backlog of 4,000 fitness to practise cases, there is probably little else the regulator can do than increase the number of cases it sees – and that is going to cost.

Suggestions of a fee rise were made by acting NMC chief executive Jackie Smith following an interim report into the regulator by the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence last week. She said that a fee rise could not be ruled out while the NMC paused, or stopped, anything that was “non-essential” to focus on these cases.

Nurses will be understandably angry that it’s they that will pay the price for a regulator that failed to prioritise how best to spend their registration fees, letting the cases stack up while it launched its personal crusade to increase its reach and influence.

The regulator has been distracted by topics such as mandatory healthcare assistant regulation, while the FtP cases piled up in its in-tray. Most believe that tightening controls on healthcare support workers is an essential part of improving care provision and public confidence in nursing, but the NMC’s existing problems suggest it was not in the best place to take on this extra function.

The CHRE report has called into question the abilities of those leading the NMC during the period in question – and it’s not the first time that NMC personnel have found themselves in the spotlight when the regulator has been found wanting. But thankfully (if somewhat surprisingly) there is no shortage of senior nurses I have spoken to who are willing to take on what’s seen as a somewhat poisoned chalice to sort out this organisation for the good of the profession.

Cue the new temporary chair – Judith Ellis. Already holding down a job as executive dean at London South Bank University, she has now stepped up from the NMC board to try and transform it from the top. What she needs to do is restore the confidence of the public in nursing, but also the confidence of nurses in their regulator. The profession is holding its breath.

  • 56 Comments

Readers' comments (56)

  • It might help if they were more efficient, less bureaucratic, less pompous, and far less up themselves! They waste millions of £s faffing about, repeating themselves, failing to respond, losing paperwork, patronising their clients and generally being relatively useless. The increase in fees is an outrage coming as it does on the back of gross inefficiency and lack of leadership.

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  • Increasing living costs, the pay freezes, an increase in pension contributions plus a risk of redundancy and now a possible increase in NMC fees... Life is really hard at the moment and it's all very depressing.

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  • I have one question, before the NMC increases the annual fee. What exactly do they do for Nurses and Midwives?
    I think the Nurses and Midwives should ahve access to see where the money goes, what budget is for what.
    Additionally I believe NMC, do not support Nurses and Midwives. The standards of care in the UK is appauling to say the least, the cutting of staff is encouraging many Nurses and Midwives to leave the profession,
    I believe it is aboit time, the NMC devised a safe Nurse-Patient ratio like every other developed country Nursing Professional Registry has done for their fellow colleagues. This leaves Nurses and Midwives with no back-up, basic standards, and minimal requirements. I have seen me on many day having the responsibility to care for 10-12 patients independently (This is not safe). In the US, the maximum number of patients per nurse is 4,on a bad day 5.This is non-HDU/ICU. This is a regular ward, but I asked the NMC once on the telephone what they believe to be safe and my answer was well they dont offer such advice. So it is in times like this I wonder what exactly they do for us?

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  • surely consideration must be given to the fact of pay freezes, job insecurity, increased in pension contributions, as the person above i do not feel that the nmc offers anything to the nursing profession and perhaps we are in need of a new governing body - and one that works for its paying clients. Many nurses are in unions and pay monthly fees, so if we do have to pay - the so called governing body - then pay monthly so it is not such a huge chunk out of an already dwindling salary.

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  • I have one question, before the NMC increases the annual fee. What exactly do they do for Nurses and Midwives?
    I think the Nurses and Midwives should have access to see where the money goes, what budget is for what.
    Additionally I believe NMC, do not support Nurses and Midwives. The standards of care in the UK is appauling to say the least, the cutting of staff is encouraging many Nurses and Midwives to leave the profession,
    I believe it is about time, the NMC devised a safe Nurse-Patient ratio like every other developed country Nursing Professional Registry has done for their fellow colleagues. This leaves Nurses and Midwives with no back-up, basic standards, and minimal requirements. I have seen me on many day having the responsibility to care for 10-12 patients independently (This is not safe). In the US, the maximum number of patients per nurse is 4,on a bad day 5.This is non-HDU/ICU. This is a regular ward, but I asked the NMC once on the telephone what they believe to be safe and my answer was well they dont offer such advice. So it is in times like this I wonder what exactly they do for us?

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  • As there are so many Fitness to Practice cases being heard, perhaps consideration could be given to why those staff are allowed to pass their training courses? Mentors ought to be given more support in failing students who are not safe to practice independently, and perhaps that number might be reduced a little.
    As for increasing the fee, how can they justify that when nurses across the country are facing an indefinite pay freeze? More and more of our income is going towards fuel and food (essential items); where are we supposed to find this expected increase in fee?!

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  • There is no way a fee increase should even be considered. They may find it reduces income anyway as people on the brink of leaving the profession will be pushed over the edge.
    They need to recover funds from those who have missused them, but if the NMC were a nurse and (if their case had actually been held), they would no longer be practicing.
    Abolish the NMC, as several others have said they do nothing for nurses and midwives and they are not protecting patients either. They are not fit for purpose. A single regulator for all of healthcare has got to be more cost effective than multiple ones, some of which are clearly not up to the job.
    There should be no increases in fees until nurses get an increase in salaries. It cannot be justified. No increase should be greater than the pay award percentage.

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  • I agree entirely with all of the above.
    Some other questions do need asking though. Why have they allowed the number of Fitness to practice cases get so high? This stinks of total incompetance. If we, as Nurses, were to let our workload get so high then we would be getting disciplined or maybe even adding to the 4000 plus already waiting to be judged if they are fit.
    Does anyone actually think about these people who are waiting to be judged? Some may well be innocent and yet they are kept waiting in these already uncertain times to see what their future holds.
    When a person is judged to be guilty then why cant they pay for the hearing costs instead of the rest of us?
    Yes, we do need a governing body but come on, everyone these days is being told that transparency is the way forward. Why then do we never ever find out what our hard earned cash is spent on.
    What are the entertainment costs for the NMC? What are the expense account budgets like when the NMC travel around the country.
    We really do need answers before there is yet another rise in the costs.

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  • When I first registered it was for a life time membership, then with a roll over from nursing unions it changed to 3 yearly membership. With such hard times facing all nursing staff it is depressing and disappointing that we are expected to yet again pay for poor management.

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  • So, not only are we expected to take what is effectively a paycut by the government freezing our wages when the cost of living is increasing dramatically but now we are expected to pay even more for the privelege of doing our jobs? Marvellous, so wonderful to see how little we are valued in this country! I have no idea whatsoever why lots of nurses are moving to Australia, Canada and the States! I wonder what it will take before those in power start to appreciate the hard work and commitment that we give and stop undervaluing us!

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