The winter nights are drawing in now the clocks have gone back, but that’s not the only cause of gloom.
The winter nights are drawing in now the clocks have gone back, but that’s not the only cause of gloom. The Nursing and Midwifery Council’s registration fee will now go up from the current level of £76 to £100, instead of the £120 proposed in May.
The fact that the NMC council took two hours to deliberate over whether to accept the £20m government bailout or make registrants pay all of the rise it originally called for, indicates that council members are somewhat out of touch with what’s really happening in nursing.
They should know better. Pay and conditions are being eroded, as Nursing Times reporter Shaun Lintern exclusively reveals. And although it contains some wins - sticking to Agenda for Change on the whole, it concedes to the scrapping of enhanced out-of-hours sick pay.
The draft deal on NHS workers’ pay, terms and conditions has been described as “the least worst option”.
And nurses are still facing yet another year of a real-terms pay cut - as even the 1% rise that’s been mooted by the government will be well below the rate of inflation.
The NMC’s own consultation on the fee hike informed it that 5% of registrants would leave the profession if they were forced to pay the increased fee rise of £120. How could it ignore this strong evidence that such a hefty increase would cause an exodus of experienced nursing talent?
How could they possibly think there was any other option but to accept the government’s help that the unions had been lobbying so hard for?
Some have raised eyebrows at the government bailout, suggesting that registrants should be wary of losing their independent
regulator. But, frankly, with the government breathing down the neck of the NMC heavily last year and this, and then calling in the heavies in the shape of the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence to scrutinise what had been going on behind closed doors at the regulator - I think that ship of independence had long sailed.
The NMC has failed its members - it admitted as much in its press conference this summer. Now it needs to turn the tanker around - get its fitness to practise cases into a manageable order and manage its fi nances with the care and propriety that it demands from registrants. All eyes are watching.