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NMC proposes 60% hike in registration fee

The Nursing and Midwifery Council has proposed increasing the annual registrants’ fee to £120 from the start of next year.

This would mean an increase of £44 on the current fee of £76, which has not risen since 2007.

The NMC council approved the proposed increase at its monthly meeting this morning, together with increases in line with inflation in future years.

The nursing regulator says the big increase is needed to finance the level of activity required to deliver its core fitness to practise functions.

Interim chief executive Jackie Smith told the council that the current fees generated around £51m a year of the regulator’s total income of £52m.

However, she warned that the NMC would need £73m this year to maintain the present level of FtP activity and that the regulator was “eating into” its financial reserves.

“What we’ve seen is an unprecedented increase in FtP activity,” she said.

The regulator current has a caseload of 4,461, up from 4,342 in March. It has also seen a 52% increase in referrals over the past two years while it continues to struggle with clearing a backlog of historic cases. 

Without a fee rise, Ms Smith said the NMC would have to “immediately cut back its FtP activity”. The number of hearings would have to be reduced from 15 hearings per day to eight, which would result in 460 fewer a year. Ms Smith said this was not an option.

NMC interim chair Judith Ellis warned that the regulator’s financial position was “fundamentally unsustainable” without the fee increase. She added: “We have to be able to protect the public.”

The NMC said it planned to begin a consultation on the proposed fee increase next month.

Council was told that the regulator had discussed the move with health minister Anne Milton last Thursday. The Department of Health “know the facts of it,” said Professor Ellis.

Council member Ruth Sawtell said: “This is such a desperately worrying situation.”

“We are caught between a rock and a hard place.”

The regulator had discussed three fee level options: an increase of £100, and increase of £120 or an increase of £140.

The council notes said the lowest increase would “not sustain the FtP activity which is currently foreseen”, and was not discussed by members.

The £120 figure, which was recommended to the council and approved, would enable the NMC to deliver FtP and other regulatory activity at “safe levels”, the papers said.

Council member David Pyle also suggested that the fee increase in line with inflation in future years, to avoid a similar situation occurring again. This was also approved by council to be taken forward to the consultation.

Some council members favoured a fee rise of £140, which the papers said would “future proof” the regulator against unexpected hikes in referrals.

The NMC is predicting a further increase in activity following the publication of the Francis report into Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust, which is due in the autumn.

Council member Grahame Owen said: “It is important to ask how much ‘headroom’ have we got with £120? It’s limited.”

But fellow member Carole Rees-Williams noted that any fee rise “might be difficult” for “nurses at the coalface” in the current economic climate.

Unison has told Nursing Times that it would be opposing any increase in the registration fee.

The union’s head of nursing, Gail Adams, said: “Hard pressed nurses and midwifes will rightly be very angry about plans to make them pay more to work.

“Many of these vital health workers and their families are already struggling to make ends meet. Not only have they had their pay frozen for two years, with two more years of pay austerity on the horizon, they are also having to pay more for their pensions.”

Royal College of Nursing chief executive and general secretary Peter Carter said: “This is a staggering proposal at a time when nurses are under huge financial pressure.

“Indeed, it is deeply unfair that the NMC would propose a near 60% hike in fees when nurses are in the middle of a two year pay freeze and facing increased pensions contributions. We know that the NMC is facing financial challenges, but nurses should not be picking up the tab.”

Both unions said they would be seeking an urgent meeting with the NMC on the issue.

Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, added: “I understand that high quality regulation of midwives and nurses comes at a price. However, the focus should not be on a fee rise but on the Government supporting the NMC to get its house in order, and to support it in dealing with the challenge of its fitness to practice caseload.

“Midwives should not face an increase and be the ones to pay the price for the current difficulties facing the NMC.”

Readers' comments (124)

  • The NMC council approved the proposed increase at its monthly meeting this morning, together with increases in line with inflation in future years.

    Does this mean that the NMC are also going to look at the fact that we still have pay freezes across the board, and little chance of getting a pay rise? We don't get to have an increase in line with inflation so why should they?

    They actually want us to pay for their incompetence then do not take into account the real life situations of payments to nurses under their umbrella (I would say care but it isn't really a laughing matter).

    Will they actually be able to deliver if we pay the increases?

    I doubt it

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  • looks like they need to balance their books and get their house in order first.

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  • Maybe if our fellow nurses werent so imcompetent and abided by the NMC's code and did their jobs properly then there would be less FtP referrals and we would not be having this increase

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  • At one time we had the GNC and JBCNS then the UKCC and the ENB one for registration issues the other for Education and things worked well. Then we got the NMC and the two were thrown together, the outcome as we can see has been disasterous for the nursing profession. To compound the problems we have had massive swathes of recruitment from overseas and nurses put onto the register after attending 'ad hoc' adaptation programmes that were not sufficiently regulated by the NMC. It is very interesting to look at the number of cases involving nurses recruited from overseas and hastely admitted to the register in order to fill the gaps in hospitals and care homes.

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  • Well I will not be recommending Nursing as a profession, for the following reasons:
    You have to pay to go to work, Which increases with inflation when your pay doesn't.
    when you are there the staffing levels are poor.
    the pension is poor due to resent changes
    you are expected to complete paperwork rather than touch a patient that's what the HCA'S do.
    Pay freeze for another 2 yrs ? longer.

    No wonder more experienced nurses are leaving, even junior nurses are leaving due to working conditions

    The NHS is a sinking ship.

    Thought the MNC was there to support nurses in their career, instead they are just money grabbing, if they did their job in the first place when people registered for the first time then there would not be all the FtP that we have to fund.

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  • If the NMC are not actually there to protect the Nurses or support them or do any good for the Nursing professionals, why do the Nurses have to pay extra? The Government should be subsidising (although they would probably use our pension pot to do it!)
    Surely by moving the NMC from the grand building in Central London to cheaper premises would pay for the extra FtP hearings and using cheaper accomodation rather than the 4* hotels for witnesses.
    Simple financial contraints would solve this issues I feel.

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  • Sorry that should be 'these' issues

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  • Its a Joke So is the NMC....

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  • Why do hard working nurses have to pay for the mistakes of others including the NMC?

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  • Some would say this is the necessary cost of professionalism. Some may question why there is a increasing number of FtP referalls. Before hitting the empty pockets of the members of the profession, shouldn't the NMC be investigating why there are so many cases - this is a regulatory failure isn't it? Is the same pattern occuring at the HPC?

    I sincerely hope that the Unions and the RCN reject this appalling proposal.

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  • Relocation to London sounds like a brilliant idea. Plus spend some time looking at why there is an increase in ftp cases instead of churning them through at a cost to those who are left.

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  • I should think she needs it to fund her own pay cheque too. She is the person who failed in her job with the fitness to practise, (being a non nurse who I doubt has any idea what we do), and is now the CEO! Heaven help us. If our fee rise makes a difference to standards then so be it but if it just means higher salaries for the NMC staff then forget it.

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  • £73m? how can ftp possibly cost this much. there is something very wrong somewhere, possibly with somebody's sums or with the system. why are nurses who commit all these serious errors requiring ftp on the register and in employment in the first place? is this best the NMC, the NHS and Britain can do for their patients?

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  • The NMC is not here to protect nurses, but the public.

    That said the NMC needs to set its house in order and show that it is functioning properly before demanding more money from registrants.

    I would be interested to know how many doctors are being investigated a day by the GMC and if the NMC runs its investigations into Fitness to practice along similar lines, or if it conducts hearing into all cases. The GMC conducts its own investigations and if appropraite issues warnings rather than FtP hearings.

    I think the NMC board members are living in dream land.

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  • Ellen is right. The NMC is there to protect the public not nurses. Read its mission statement on its website.

    While you're at it, read the CHRE (the NMC's regulator) reports over the past few years which document this organisation's culture of bullying, incompetence and repeated failures. Look to the recent departures (under clouds) of senior NMC figures and the lack of accountability for their failings.

    It is lazy and erroneous to blame colleagues who are subject to FtP hearings as 'incompetent' and not doing 'their jobs properly'. Whatever happened to innocent until proved guilty? Whereas, genuine cases need to be dealt with appropriately, the majority cases are thrown out. Any old baseless, mismanaged complaint can ruin a career and a life. Another documented fact.

    Get this bunch of clowns out of their expensive London addresses and out into small regional offices, trim down the staff and get someone with half a brain to run the NMC. No need for a fee hike, and maybe the NMC will start the long road back to credibility.

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  • You have to be able to protect the public???

    THEN LET THE BL**DY PUBLIC PAY FOR YOUR DAMN INCREASE YOU ROBBING PARASITIC USELESS WASTE OF SPACE NOMARKS!!!!

    I will NOT pay this increase, and will refuse to register if this goes through!!!!!

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  • That's bl**dy daylight robbery!! They have us over a barrel the greedy b------s. Why anyone wants to train as a nurse these days I really don't know.

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  • Nurses should NOT have to pay for the NMC which is there to protect the public, as already mentioned.

    Only 'registered nurses' are paying if they wish to work as nurses. All non-registered nurses (whatever abbreviation eg HCA, CSW, APs), as far as I know, do not have to pay, as it costs too much and is too much hastle to set and administrate. Last time I checked, they also carry out nursing work with patients, care for patients, are responsible for their own actions (and/or otherwise), and are also working very hard in these difficult times in difficult conditions. Some are also eligible for tax deductions for washing their own uniforms, replacing stocking/shoes + certain professional/union memberships + subscriptions.

    NMC fees should be paid for by public funds, or the employers at the very least to ensure all healthcare staff are registered, so that standards can be maintained/improved for the benefit of patient care and poor practice can be addressed.
    How much does it cost to input someone's details into a database and to take a fee for it. FtP hearings should be held in more cost efficient environments with a view to minimise expenses.
    As nurses are paying at present, then the NMC should be accountable to nurses for the money they are squandering. It appears the NMC isn't fit for practice and not working as efficiently as it should be - how can they insist nurses should improve when they can't do it themselves.
    Time to scrap healthcare staff paying this fee, if it needs paying for - it can come out of general taxation or from our employers.

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  • Thank god I'm near retirement. After 40 years in this joke of a 'job' and paying out ever increasing fees (when I supposedly registered FOR LIFE in 1975) I'll be glad to leave it all behind.
    The NMC have been incompetent since their inception and have expected the ground floor staff to subsidise their daft ideas -eg the handy card that I could laminate and keep in my uniform pocket to refer to whenever I needed advice on how to respect patients, that unfortunately got filed in the bin along with the other tripe they turn out with monotonous regularity using MY money.
    Not often I want a return to the 'old days', but sometimes......

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  • tinkerbell

    kerching!

    I've just popped my purse open again, take what you want but leave me the shirt on my back hey.

    Remember we pay your salary but nobody wants to pay ours. You can only get so much blood out of us.

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