Nurses have responded to a consultation on the proposal to increase their registration fee to £120 with almost total opposition.
The Nursing and Midwifery Council’s meeting today heard that approximately 20,000 nurses had responded to its consultation survey on increasing the fee from the current rate of £76 so far. A total of 98% of those rejected the rise.
The survey will continue until August 24, with the NMC expected to make a final recommendation of the fees change in September.
Meanwhile, an e-petition on a government website opposing the change has attracted more than 48,700 signatures. If it reaches 100,000, the issue could be debated in the Commons.
Unison’s head of nursing Gail Adams said the result was mirrored in the union’s own survey which had found a 94% rejection of the fee.
She said: “The strength of feeling was always going to be there.” She also predicted that the NMC would press ahead with the change anyway, which “made a mockery of [the] consultation”.
The embattled regulator, which was heavily criticised for failing “at every level” in a review of its capability earlier this month, has claimed the 60% hike is needed to pay for its core function of protecting the public through Fitness to Practise investigations.
The cost of the FtP process is expected to rise to £73m following a 52% increase in the number of referrals over the past two years.
The council meeting heard that in June, its increase in FtP action had meant that, for the first time, more cases were closed than were referred in June.
The meeting heard there had been a reduction of 59 cases in the NMC’s caseload, although it still has more than 4,000 on its books with an average length of investigation estimated at 12.8 months.
Acting chief executive Jackie Smith said: “We have to win back the confidence of the public and professionals and we need to deal with our internal culture.”
She said the council’s “resigned resilience culture” needed to be challenged, but that it would take time.