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NMC launches consultation on planned fee hike

The Nursing and Midwifery Council has begun a consultation exercise on its proposals to increase the registration fee from £76 to £120.

The 12-week public consultation, launched today, seeks views on the increase and whether or not future fees should be linked to inflation.

The fee hike plans, which would come into force from the start of next year, have sparked a furious response from nurses since they were revealed last month at the regulator’s council meeting.

Many registrants have already registered their anger in comments on nursingtimes.net and social networking websites. One group of nurses has set up a petition on the government’s website calling on ministers to review the change. Unions have held talks with the regulator on the issue.

The NMC consultation will now provide the profession with an opportunity to make its feelings known formally. It will remain open until midday on 24 August.

The current £76 fee generates the bulk of the regulator’s income, at around £53m a year, and has remained unchanged since 2007.

The regulator has stated the 58% rise in the fee is needed to deal with an unprecedented 48% increase in fitness to practise referrals since 2009-10. It says without the fee rise it would have to cut back on its core FtP work.

Launching the consultation interim NMC chair Judith Ellis reiterated the regulator’s previous warning that the fee rise was needed to “protect the public”.

“We are acutely aware of the difficult financial and economic situation that many nurses and midwives are currently experiencing,” Professor Ellis said.

“Seeking to increase the registration fee at this point will, for some, be unpalatable. However, it is imperative that we are able to carry out our core statutory functions to protect the public.”

She added: “In order to manage the fitness to practise caseload in 2012-13 our forecast expenditure will be £43m. This, together with the costs of delivering our other core regulatory and support functions will increase total expenditure to £73m.

“If our income were to remain at the current level we would have no choice but to scale back our fitness to practise activity so that we could live within our means. This would, however, mean that we would be failing in our duty to protect the public.”

Professor Ellis said the regulator had also sought to find other ways of saving money, including pay freezes for its staff, but was still having to eat into its financial reserves to maintain its current FtP operating level.

“We have significant efficiency savings built in to the budget, which will realise cost savings in fitness to practise and also annualised savings resulting from an organisational restructure,” she said.

“We have implemented a pay freeze for all but the lowest paid of our staff and we have also reduced activity in a number of areas to allow us to focus on core regulatory activities. However, none of this will bridge the funding gap that we face.”

The NMC inherited a financial deficit from its predecessor body - the United Kingdom Central Council for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting - when it was created in 2002-03.

The NMC returned to a position of financial stability in March 2010 after implementing a financial recovery plan. At that time it had six months’ expenses available in reserves.

However, as of 31 March this year, its available reserves had reduced to three months’ operating expenditure, primarily due to significant additional costs required to deal with its current FtP caseload.

Unions reiterated their opposition to the proposed fee increase, which they say is “excessive and unacceptable” and means nurses and midwives will “be the ones to pay for the failings and poor financial management of the NMC”. 

In a joint statement released today, Unison, Unite and the royal colleges of nrusing and midwives said: “We believe it is inappropriate to seek such an increase when nurses and midwives are already seeing multiple assaults on their pay packets.

“Serious questions need to be asked of the NMC and of the government as to how this situation has been allowed to develop unchecked. Registration fees should only ever be increased once all alternative options have been exhausted,” the statement added. 

“We support the principle of profession-led regulation squarely aimed at protecting the public. We realise that the NMC is in a difficult position and that it cannot fulfil its remit with its current finances. However, it should not be the hard pressed registrants who pay for the financial failings of the organisation.”

 

Readers' comments (80)

  • No mention here of moving premises to outside central London.

    I have asked for a total breakdown of how much money it costs for one individual nurse to have their details updated onto the Register, I have had no reply.

    Perhaps they could 'live within their means' if they moved out of their prime central London location. Why do they need such enormous, luxurious surroundings. My heart bleeds.

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  • I cannot believe that a day has arrived when I am even considering whether I can afford to continue being a nurse given that fact that I am a hard working single parent (another group who are allegedly responsible for all societies woes). I work in mental health services and I love my job. However the pace and rate of change coupled with the bad press nurses get aswell as further financial pressures do sometimes make me question why I didnt go into clinical psychology. I was much longer training but right now i would be earning something like the equivalent of my current fulltime salary for the same amount of part time work and not being blamed for all the NHS's problems.

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  • Shame our salary wont increase by 58%
    can someone please tell me what am i paying for? what does the NMC do?? i qualified in march and i am unable to get a job as i am told i dont have experience!!! but i still have to pay the NMC my £76 and pay £40 to pay for parking at the hospital!! What other profession pays these sorts of fees to work???? and still have to pay them even if they are not in work or risk having to re-train!!!! its an insult.

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  • Will look at consultation and will leave comments i think

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  • Toby Ornottoby

    So how much is this new 'consultation exercise' going to cost NMC members?

    Surely it would have been much cheaper and quicker if they had just read some of the threads on this site concerning the fee hike? They could even look at the results of the online petition.

    I think they'd find the approval rate for this proposal is well under 1%.

    So the NMC wants an increase of 58%. Remind me... what's the current rate of inflation? Better still what percentage pay rise are UK nurses (those who still have a job) receiving this year?

    “If our income were to remain at the current level we would have no choice but to scale back our fitness to practice activity so that we could live within our means."

    Well blimey there's an idea... living within your means... who would have thunk it! Why not give it a go like the rest of us have to eh NMC?

    Gee.... Talk about living in La-la land!

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  • Historically, the NMC only paid a peppercorn rent for the premises, altho' I'm not sure if that is still the case.

    I agree that they should provide a breakdown of costs for an 'average' nurse to be entered on the register - and how they calculate the cost of a FTP event. Do the costs come from lawyers fees, payment to the FTP panel members? Paperwork? Is there not a more cost-effective way of doing this?

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  • Nurses are held to ransom by the NMC. The only way to stop this is for ALL nurses to make a stand and refuse to pay these fees.

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  • Anonymous | 1-Jun-2012 11:13 am

    you may find some of the information you need in their published accounts and balance sheet which can be accessed from the NMC website.

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  • The NMC has a list of faqs on their website which are worth a read.

    http://www.nmc-uk.org/Get-involved/Consultations/NMC-fee-increase/

    According to it, their offices on Portland Place cost £250 a year in rent! Astonishing!

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  • Anyone who wants to ask a question about the costs or the running of the NMC just needs to make it clear in a letter that you are asking the question under the auspices of the Freedom of Information Act and remind them that they have just 20 working days in which to answer the query. Although they should treat all requests for information in this way, they will use every delaying tactic they can with requests to avoid passing information on. The last thing that should happen is that they are bombarded with requests, perhaps here is a good place for a co-ordinated approach to be made. Perhaps someone will be willing to pull together questions that are asked here and compile them into one coherent request?

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  • Peppercorn rent or not, the cost of accommodating registrants, witnesses, and panel members for FtP hearings alone is likely to more than outweight any rent savings.

    Legal advice in Central London is hardly going to be cheap either.

    If what used to be the DHSS can be moved out of London I fail to see what is holding the NMC back. A property developer would wet themselves thinking about what they could do with the HQ building in terms of luxury apartments.

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  • At a time when all nurses are experiencing the equivalent of on going pay cuts (pay freeze + NI increases etc) the NMC wants to jump on the band wagon and give nurses another pay cut. Thanks guys, so we now have to npay for the privellage of working.

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  • why aren't these fees deducted at source from salaries with a contribution from employers as in other countries?

    would that be an idea?

    say nurses contributed 1/3 and employers paid 2/3 or even each paid 50%. I see little reason why nurses are carrying the whole can of funding fitness to practice cases. Alternatively payment of the care each patient receives, free at the point of delivery through tax funding, should include insurance against malpractice.

    "... an unprecedented 48% increase in fitness to practise referrals since 2009-10. It says without the fee rise it would have to cut back on its core FtP work."

    these are startling figures. have the reasons of this been examined?
    could it be due to inadequate training? lack of staff? added stress hindering nurses from carrying out their care adequately?
    poor management? more complaints from management or from colleagues? failure to listen to the needs of healthcare professionals to carry out their job properly? an increase in disgruntled and disatisfied patients who lodge complaints? higher expectations from patients and their families? unrealistic exceptions? inadequate care and failure to meet their needs? lack of facilities to deal with 'customer' complaints adequately? - just as some examples...!

    Maybe government and NHS financial resources used to look at the reasons might be a better investment than immediately hiking up fees to deal with a backlog and a potential increase in numbers of ftp cases.


    "“If our income were to remain at the current level we would have no choice but to scale back our fitness to practise activity so that we could live within our means. This would, however, mean that we would be failing in our duty to protect the public.”"

    is this system, as it stands, protecting the public in an adequate manner anyway? judging by all that has been reported in the media recently this seems highly questionable.

    When I joined the GNC 'for life' we never had any of this nonsense!

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  • Anonymous | 1-Jun-2012 11:51 am

    According to it, their offices on Portland Place cost £250 a year in rent! Astonishing!
    i agree astonishing i presume it must be a typo and should actually read 250.000 a month!?

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  • NMC Annual reports and accounts 2010-2011


    http://www.nmc-uk.org/Documents/Annual_reports_and_accounts/NMC-annual-report-and-accounts-2010-2011.pdf

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  • Definitely £250 a year. No wonder they stay put!

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  • They use the services of a company owned by Atos called KPMG. They used them for advice on setting fees and more concerningly they are consuklting the NMC on dealing with the Fitness To Practice hearings.. How can this be ? Why is no one investigating this and how much are nurses paying this Atos owned company ?

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  • re the two comments directly above

    that is similar to the story about the Lansley using a consulting firm for advice on how to run the NHS and he and his staff getting great free hospitality from them as a result. It was them whose report said that a London teaching hospital could run on less nursing staff. Can't remember the name.
    It was reported in NT a few weeks ago but I have no time to hunt for it.

    As far as the NMC goes they own the lease on their property. Does this mean they don't pay any rent on it?

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  • tinkerbell

    Anonymous | 1-Jun-2012 4:13 pm

    think the company was McKinsey who advised them on how to privatise the NHS through a process they call 'deleveraging', which basically means selling off parts of the NHS services that don't make a profit or basically just selling off the NHS and privatising it.

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  • Does anyone know how much was spent on the Margaret Hayward case?

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