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NMC starts consultation on plans to raise registration fee

The Nursing and Midwifery Council has launched its consultation on unpopular proposals to increase the annual registration fee.

In response to the start of the listening exercise, unions said the views of nurses “must not be ignored”.

The consultation will look to gather the views of nurses and midwives on a proposed increase in the registration fee from £100 to £120. 

“This consultation is an opportunity for all nurses and midwives to have their say”

Jackie Smith

The exercise will run from 8 May to 31 July. The NMC council will make their final decision on the fee level at their meeting on 1 October.

NMC chief executive and registrar Jackie Smith said: “This consultation is an opportunity for all nurses and midwives to have their say on the proposed increase to the annual registration fee.

Jackie Smith

Jackie Smith

“We are proposing to increase the registration fee by £20 which would enable us to make the much needed improvements we have committed to,” she added.

The NMC began warning in January that its financial situation will be “unsustainable” in future without a further rise in the annual registration fee.

A finance report, presented at the NMC’s January council meeting, shows it expected to end the last financial year with a deficit of £7.3m, which it stated “was unsustainable in future years without a fee rise”.

Last month, the regulator’s leaders subsequently agreed to go ahead with a consultation on a possible registration fee increase, less than two years since the last rise in February 2013.

On that occasion, the regulator had initially attempted to increase the fee from £76 to £120 but it relented and upped the fee to £100, following a £20m grant from the government.

However, the NMC has stated that its financial strategy for the period 2012-16 has always included an allowance for it to revisit an increase to £120 from March 2015.

“NMC simply must not be allowed to continue to ignore the views and feelings of the nursing workforce”

Peter Carter

On 1 May a petition calling on the government to review the process the NMC uses to decide its annual registration fee reached a major milestone.

The online petition has now been signed by more than 100,000 people, meaning that under the government’s rules it must be considered as a potential topic for debate by MPs in the Commons.

The petition was started earlier this year by a mental health liaison nurse, who said the views of registrants had been ignored when the NMC attempted to increase the fee in 2012.

The petition states: “The fees were increased two years ago from £76 to £100, following a consultation that was overwhelmingly against the rise.”

Unison responded to the consultation launch by saying the plans to raise fees by 20% should be “dropped right now”, branding the proposed increase as “unfair and disproportionate”.

The union is calling for a parliamentary debate on the proposal to be a priority, following news that an online petition exceeded the 100,000 signatures target.

Unison head of nursing Gail Adams said: “The vast majority [of nurses and midwives] will not be getting a pay rise this year and this is on top of a three-year pay freeze and squeeze.”

“Nurses and midwives simply cannot afford to be held to ransom by this increase”

Gail Adams

She said the union would be conducting its own consultation into the issue.

She also noted that less than 1% of nurses had their fitness to practise called into question while the NMC spent 77% of registration fees on managing such investigations.

Gail Adams

Ms Adams added: “The rise in fees may also put off many older nurses who retire but who return to work on a part-time basis. Nurses and midwives simply cannot afford to be held to ransom by this increase and the NHS and patients cannot afford to lose so much valuable skill and experience from the service.”

Unison would be working closely with the Royal College of Nursing and the Royal College of Midwives throughout the consultation period.

Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the RCN, said: “When many nurses are struggling to make ends meet, asking them to find 20% more to pay their registration fees is unjust and shows little regard for the financial pressures that nurses up and down the country are experiencing.

Peter Carter

“Our members are angry and frustrated that they are being expected to shoulder the NMC’s financial pressures,” he said. 

“NMC simply must not be allowed to continue to ignore the views and feelings of the nursing workforce. Our members spoke loud and clear during the last consultation in 2012 – they must not be ignored now,” he added.

Jon Skewes, the Royal College of Midwives’ director for policy, employment relations and communications, said he was “deeply disappointed and dismayed” by the NMC’s plans.

“This is yet another slap in the face to hard-working midwives in the wake of the government’s decision to deny all midwives and NHS staff a fair pay rise, as recommended by the NHS Pay Review Body,” he said.

“Midwives have lost £4,045 a year by not receiving pay increases in line with the cost of living – let alone added extras like a proposed increased membership fees by the regulator.”

Readers' comments (28)

  • NMC Fees have already risen and other AHP's do not have the same problem. If the NMC cannot cope then why don't we as Nurses register with the HPC as allied Health Care Professionals. Its really hard being a nurse out there with changing legislation and if the nurse cannot understand the code of conduct
    and initiatives such as the 6 C's have to be implemented. whats the point of the NMC anyway?

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  • bring back the GNC and the ENB and give us back our SRNs for life!

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  • what a cheek the fees are already too much, I would agree with the previous comment, bring back the GNC and our SRNs.....

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  • Charge NHS Trusts and other commercial health providers £1,000 deposit for each referral. If the referral is successful give them £500 back, otherwise they lose the whole £1,000. This would reduce the number of unnecessary referrals and hence the workload. It would also fill the financial gap at the NMC

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  • why should we pay for the NMC financial difficulties

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  • They know well that nurses dont want a rise in fees! NMC is not to protect nurses, or to stand up for them. It is to protect and be an advocate for the patients. THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD PAY THE ENTIRE FEE. It's a pretty useless organisation anyway

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  • What about the wage freeze of the nurses, which has been going on for few years. Why don't we have the wages increased and correspondingly increase the fees. It should be fair on both sides.

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  • I really resent the thought of having to work a twelve hour shift just to pay my fees when due to childcare costs I'm only able to work one twelve one shift a week anyway! I've never come so close to letting my pin lapsed before. But I don't know what I'd be or do if I wasn't a nurse. So unfortunately I will just have to pay up if I want to practice no matter how little I am able to work at the moment or not. Surely there's a better way

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  • How about a consultation to double nurses' pay, to double numbers of nurses on duty, so that everyone can then just focus on patients' care.
    If the NMC cannot manage its own resources and be efficient, then it's time to let someone else take over.

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  • I agree the above comments. Nurses and Midwives have not had a pay increase in years.
    We are now being held at ransom by the very organization that should be fighting for better pay, better work conditions and more staff, because if we do not pay our fees we cannot practice, hence no food on our tables.
    The NMC need to get their house in order and stop penalizing nurses and midwives that work so hard to keep the NHS working.
    Why can't we have an organization fighting for us as the train drivers? They seem to get what they want!! Re consider NMC. NO MORE INCREASE!!!.

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  • Anonymous | 9-May-2014 9:46 pm

    instead of bleating about it, employees need to actually prove a pay rise is merited!

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  • Thanks for letting us know. I don't recall getting any information on this directly from the NMC.

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  • Nurses have not had a pay rise for 3 yrs or more. I can't afford to pay anymore to practise as a pre assessment nurse.

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  • maybe it should be calculated as a percentage of salary and deducted at source. those working part time may not have the same funds to pay as somebody working full time.

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  • For various personal reasons I have not been able to practice and earn a penny as an RMN from March 2011 to April 2014. However, inorder to stay on the register and be considered to practice again I had to find the annual subs as demanded by the NMC. It would be useful if the NMC could spell out exactly what they do for nurses to justify the level of subs payable. As I am currently working in domicialliary care just to keep some of my skills up to date, the latest proposal gives me little reason to stay on the register.

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  • Suggestions:

    1 NMC move base out of London to a
    less expensive Region (Yorkshire seeing
    as DoH there already?)

    2 Those who are found unfit to practice
    should pay a percentage of costs

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  • Anonymous | 12-May-2014 9:57 am

    good ideas. perhaps it would also dissuade people from being 'unfit' in the first place and cut down costs that way as well!

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  • the NMC need to look carefully at why they require extra funds - I do not think they should go up - the NMC as everyone else (excluding bankers and MP's) should realise that money does not grow on trees and they need to look at ways to run the service more efficiently

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  • Well I'm off,going,ending nursing at long last! No more will my money be wasted on buying Jackie Smith new suits while pretending to protect the public! CANNOT WAIT!

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  • Pussy

    Does anyone realise NMC pay a yearly rent of £250 to the BBC?

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