Everywhere in the health service, both private and public sector organisations are being asked to deliver efficiency savings.
Nurses often bear the brunt of that drive to the lowest cost - in the NHS many are taking the hit by taking on more work and yet at the same time, effectively taking a pay cut to reduce the cost of providing care.
Everyone is trying to do much more with much less. Every organisation, it seems, except the Nursing and Midwifery Council.
While nurses are coming to terms with not receiving a 1% pay rise, the NMC wants them to pay an extra £20 for their registration fee, which it proposes should rise to £120 from February 2015 (page 2).
Here is an organisation running the biggest nurse register in the world, with a guaranteed annual income. The NMC knows exactly how much money it will receive each year, yet it cannot manage toend a financial year without being millions of pounds in deficit.
Surely it’s time to take a long hard look at how the council is run and consider whether its operations should be streamlined? Every other organisation in healthcare is having to change the way it runs its service, so isn’t it reasonable to suggest the NMC reflects the landscape it operates in and fi nds ways of doing more for less?
Every organisation in healthcare is having to change the way it runs its service, so isn’t it reasonable to suggest the NMC finds ways of doing more for less?
The Professional Standards Authority’s audit of the NMC has found several concerns in the regulator’s own staff’s compliance with its procedures, avoidable delays in progressing cases and poor practice in handling of reviews of interim orders. What’s worrying too is that the NMC failed to identify the serious issues raised by the PSA in its own internal review of its handling of cases involving registrants employed by Mid Staffs. The NMC lacks the ability to be critical of its own organisation, and be objective about what it does or more importantly identify what it could do better. Is it a real leap to suggest that it may lack the capacity to judge its own efficiency?
The consultation on the fee rise will run from May to July, and I don’t expect a single nurse to be in favour, yet the profession seems resigned to the fact that the NMC will carry on regardless. And sadly, it probably will.
It’s neither sustainable nor appropriate to ask the government to throw money at the NMC every time the regulator finds itself in trouble. But neither should the NMC constantly look to nurses to bail it out of fi nancial difficulty.
It is time for the NMC to put its house in order. It must look at where money can be saved and how it can protect the public without costing nurses the earth. Surely it can’t be that difficult to cut its cloth according to its means? After all, everyone else is having to do it.
Jenni Middleton, editor
firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow me on Twitter @nursingtimesed