The Nursing and Midwifery Council has warned that its financial situation will be “unsustainable” in future without a further rise in the annual registration fee.
The regulator’s latest finance report, presented at the NMC’s latest council meeting last week, shows that it is expecting to end the current financial year with a deficit of more than £7m.
It stated: “While the year-end forecast is an improvement on that budgeted, our deficit of revenue expenditure over income is still forecast to be £7.3m, which is unsustainable in future years without a fee rise.”
The NMC is also predicting it will fall short of another key budgetary target at the end of the current financial year. According to its latest budget forecast, its available free reserves will be £8.2m by March 2014.
This figure is £0.8m higher than the £7.4m than it predicted in its original budget for 2013-14, but is still in breach of its policy that available free reserves should be between £10m and £25m.
The Nursing and Midwifery Council
In May 2012 the regulator attempted to increase the annual registration fee straight from £76 to £120. Following much vocal opposition and a £20m grant from the government, it relented and opted instead to up the fee to £100 in February 2013 for two years.
However, the regulator’s financial strategy for the period 2012-16 allows for a further increase in March 2015 to £120, which would add £8.2m in 2015-16.
The NMC council received a presentation on the state of the regulator’s finances at its meeting last week. But it will not make a decision until its next meeting in March on whether to consult about a fee rise to £120.
A spokeswoman for the regulator said: “In 2012, the NMC accepted a one off grant of £20m, which enabled the registration fee for nurses and midwives to be maintained at £100 for two years.
“As the two years of additional funding provided by the government draws to a close, the NMC council will be reviewing the current fee structure at their March 2014 council meeting,” she added.
“This is in line with the NMC’s commitment to review fees on an annual basis,” she said. “The NMC council will have the final decision on whether a fee consultation needs to take place.”
However, the Royal College of Nursing has already launched a pre-emptive strike against any such move in future. It a statement, it “expressed its concern” at a potential rise in NMC registration fees.
Peter Carter, RCN chief executive and general secretary, said: “An above-inflation increase from £100 to £120 a year would be a shockingly unfair move for the NMC to make.
“Registration fees of £120 would be an increase of almost 60% over two years and we do not believe this can be justified,” he said.
“Nursing needs a strong and effective regulator, but the RCN is deeply concerned that nurses could end up bearing the burden of the NMC’s continuing financial problems,” he added.
“The NMC is a body with a guaranteed income and should not rely on a financial strategy of squeezing more money out of frontline nurses.”
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