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Unions condemn NMC decision to consult on registration fee rise

Nursing and Midwifery Council leaders have agreed to go ahead with a consultation on a possible registration fee increase.

In a widely expected move, the NMC council’s latest meeting, held today in London, has decided in favour of consulting on increasing the annual fee for registrants from £100 to £120.

The consultation will run from May to July, with the NMC council considering the outcome in October. If agreed, the NMC would then seek to introduce the fee rise from February 2015.

Nursing Times understands that no council members opposed the move during the discussion on it at today’s meeting.

In a statement issued after the meeting, the NMC said: “We fully appreciate that the possibility of a fee increase comes at a bad time for nurses and midwives.

“It is in the interests of nurses and midwives that their regulator has the appropriate resources needed to take swift and fair action against those who fall short of the high standards expected of the professions,” the regulator stated. “The fee is our principle source of income and without sufficient funds we won’t be able to adequately protect the public.”

It added: “The consultation date will be announced in due course and the Council will make its decision on the registration fee at their meeting on 1 October.”

“We fully appreciate that the possibility of a fee increase comes at a bad time for nurses and midwives”

NMC statement

Warnings that the regulator might be seeking another fee rise were sparked at its last council meeting in January.

A finance report said it was expecting to end the 2013-14 with a deficit of £7.3m, which it stated “was unsustainable in future years without a fee rise”.

The consultation is an almost inevitable consequence of the NMC’s ongoing struggles to balance its books. In 2012 it attempted to increase the registration fee from £76 to £120.

But, following a £20m government grant, the regulator opted to increase it to £100 in February 2013 for two years.

However, the regulator’s long-term financial strategy for the period 2012-16 has always allowed for a further increase in March 2015 to £120, which would add £8.2m in 2015-16.

A petition calling on the government to review the process through which the NMC decides its annual registration fee has now been signed by over 95,000 people.

“There is no justification in the NMC raising registration fees for midwives and nurses by a massive 20%”

Gail Adams

Unison head of nursing Gail Adams, who was present at the council meeting as an observer, said: “There is no justification in the NMC raising registration fees for midwives and nurses by a massive 20%.”

“This proposed increase is disproportionate and adds insult to injury,” she added. “It follows the government’s recent decision to deny a pay increase to 70% of nursing staff this year, with a meagre 1% to the rest. This decision by the NMC means a further pay cut for nurses and midwives.” 

Speaking at the meeting today, she called on the NMC to “think again” and argued that it should consider the impact such a large fees rise would have on registrants.

Gail Adams

While recognising the regulator’s statutory responsibility to public protection, Ms Adams said it was of little benefit if the impact of its decision was nurses and midwives “voting with their feet and leaving the profession”. She claimed this was a “very real risk” if the fee rise was carried through.

The union said it was calling for an urgent meeting between NMC chair Mark Addison, chief executive Jackie Smith and the Department of Health, because “technically the NMC is still in special measures”.

Unions said they would also be requesting an urgent meeting about the potential fee rise with the minister responsible, Dr Dan Poulter, as soon as possible.

“This is a sign of some serious financial mismanagement and nurses should not be bearing the brunt”

Peter Carter

Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “Many nursing staff will rightly be sceptical that this consultation will end in anything other than approval for the unfair rise.

“It is important that nursing has an effective regulator, and this is in the best interests of nurses as well as patients. However, the NMC simply cannot expect to use hard working nurses as a quick-fix for its ongoing financial problems,” Dr Carter said.

Peter Carter

“When an organisation which has a guaranteed source of income demands a 60% increase in fees over two years this is a sign of some serious financial mismanagement and nurses should not be bearing the brunt of that,” he added.

Meanwhile, Royal College of Midwives chief executive Professor Cathy Warwick said: “We are very disappointed to see this proposal by the NMC.

“We are extremely concerned about the impact that any fee rise, far less one of this magnitude, will have on our cash-strapped members,” she said.

“It just seems like one hurdle after another for midwives”

Cathy Warwick

Professor Warwick added: “This rise is required, largely, to fund fitness to practise proceedings and ensure the government imposed targets around this NMC function are met.

“The majority of midwives never come before an NMC fitness to practise panel, but they still have to bear the brunt of this fee increase. It just seems like one hurdle after another for midwives.”

“The RCM believes that the government should relax the targets it has placed on the NMC and allow the regulator to work within its existing fee structure, rather than demanding that midwives dig deep into their pockets for money they simply don’t have,” she said.

Readers' comments (25)

  • what do they do with the money ?

    I can remember £30 for 3 years - which was not that long ago !

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  • I paid a £9 fee for life in 1974!

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  • I thought the 9 quid was extortionate!

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  • me to in 1983 - it was more than £9 but can't remember how much

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  • The disconnect between the NMC and it's registrants is laid bare: the NMC is asking for what amounts to more than a full 12 hour shift worth of pay just for the privilege of being allowed to go into work.

    Please, everyone sign the e-petition and get some scrutiny of this lots mismanagement.

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  • The NMC received a £20m government grant in 2012, what has this been used for? They cannot expect to be bailed out again, but neither should Nurses have to finance what appears to be their financial mis- management.

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  • I can remember paying £36 for 3 years back in 1993- moaned a tiny bit! But now this constant price hiking has got to stop, we have no pay rise as such for anyone (don't forget only for a year so is not substantive for anyone).
    Sign the petition!!

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  • Why should registered nurses fees go up to cover the deficit? Surly it makes sense to register all the hsc's who are currently not registered? We have no pay rise for 2 years then a measly 1%, it won't be worth going to work soon :(

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  • Qualified in 2000 when it was £72 for 3 years. Then it became annually. At the proposed £120 a year that would be an annual increase of £96 from in comparison to the 2000 fee..........

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  • This is absolute nonsense. No pay rise for the last however many years yet they expect to increase these fees.
    These people should be ashamed, they are making being a nurse extremely difficult, all we want to do is care for our patients in the best way we can but this demand for extra money is driving some away.

    I already though the increase to £100 was extortion....

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  • Let the public purse pay to protect the public, they might be more inclined to get better value for money from the NMC then by improving the 'service' provided and cutting some of the jobs for the boys. Sign the petition. Please

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  • What is the point of this consultation? Does even what we say matter?

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  • Maybe Nurses unite and don't pay. Where are our union representatives. A predominately male profession would not allow this. We need a governing body but at what price?

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  • Anonymous | 27-Mar-2014 10:37 pm

    there's an idea but 'unite' in your above sentence could be a problem.

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  • Unless the government steps in expect the fee to rise in April 2015.
    I personally would suggest that the fee remains the same for AfC Band 5, £10 Increase for band 6/7 and £120 for band 8 and above. Let the NMC use some of their reverses to fund any shortfalls.
    What is important is to get past the 100,00 signatures ASAP and before the end of the consultation so that the issue can be debated in the house before the summer recess in parliament.

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  • Francesco Palma | 28-Mar-2014 7:31 am

    Nice idea, but it would cost more to administer a scheme which had different rates for different bands. How would it work for private sector etc?

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  • The NMC said :
    'We fully appreciate that the possibility of a fee increase comes at a bad time for Nurses and Midwives'.

    I went on a Customer Care Study day not too long ago, which in the main could have been a study day for any department in any service industry.
    I can see it is a taught thingh to say in the world of business especially when a decision is causing anger and upset.
    I get this way of speaking every day at work.
    OT, Physio, Relatives,Other : ' I know that you are busy but.........'.

    As if to say 'I have said that I understood your position and that is da## good enough, but I still Bl##dy want my own way, thank you very much'.

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  • NMC Annual Report & Accounts 2012-13 :

    The principal capital project undertaken during 2012–2013 was the conversion of leased office premises at 20 Old Bailey to a dedicated Fitness to Practise hearing venue with 12 hearing suites. The net cost of this project was £1.3 million.

    Papers for Council Meeting 26 th March 2014 :

    The budgeted capital spend for 2014-2015 ... £1.3 million represents the fit out of a leased building to replace the FtP hearing premises at Old Bailey. The lease on this expires in November 2014, and alternatives are currently being actively considered.

    I.e. NMC spent £1.3 million fitting out hearing rooms at Old Bailey November 2012, for which lease expires November 2014 (2 years use), and NMC now plans to spend a further £1.3 million fitting out another venue

    Good use of our registration fees ?

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  • I paid £65 for life in 1985, and was told that was that; no more to pay. What a lie that was.

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  • 28 March 2014, Friday

    The best way is to let UNISON, UNITE and other work unions to file NOW a Cease and Desist Court Order to stop NMC from increasing the professional registration fee of £120.00 until it has been debated at the Parliament before summer.

    So Parliament can file a resolution bill stopping the NMC from increasing the registration fee to practice, thus making it into Law.

    NMC is for public protection. It is only reasonable to say that NMC should be funded by taxpayers money and NOT the registrants hard earned money. Registrants must pay a fixed registration fee of £75.00 only.

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