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EDITOR’S COMMENT

'NMC is out of touch with the profession'

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.

Readers' comments (21)

  • Can't say this is any sort of news frankly. The NMC lost all credibility and the respect of everyone a long time ago. I guess they are simply seeing how much money they can make out of hard-up nurses so they can give themselves pay rises (probably ten times more than any nurse will get) and make Portland house even more luxurious. The NMC make me feel sick and I am currently deciding whether I can continue in a career where the governing body does what it likes, when it likes.
    Personally, I don't think the NMC should be Independent as those running it have shown year on year that they are incapable of doing so. Yes, it should be Independent but not when those people who accept that they have failed the nursing profession are still in charge. I can only see things getting worse and worse and next year, despite what they have said, we should be prepared for another huge hike (above what they have agreed on) on the back of some imaginary figures and fallacies.
    Nursing is in a dark period at the moment with redundancies, cuts and wage freezes...not to mention everybody is seemingly against us....we have ineffective unions and the NMC are just not capable of anything. I think now is the time to get out of the profession that I love and have sacrificed a lot for and look for a new career

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  • Susan Markham

    Jolly good editorial Jenni but I think the headline is slightly wrong....

    Instead of 'NMC is out of touch with the profession' you should have put 'NMC is out of touch with the real world' because that's where most of us live.

    We have bills to pay, faces to feed and nothing left to save at the end of the month.

    It's not a dig at you.

    I always remember Maggie's run-up to the election of 79. She said "Of course I know how to run the economy, I am a housewife who has had to budget the family income for years..."

    Hokay... considering that her husband was a millionaire... that's probably not such a good example.

    In fact NT - Can I get a "do again?"

    Can I?

    Please....

    OK - so it seems that's a NO...

    The point is that we have all had to downsize our spending and expectations in the last five years... personally speaking I gave up cocaine suppositories, staying at the Hilton and trashing the room, mainlining fossilised turtle faeces, jetting around the world in my personal submarine and eating caviare on toast...

    So why can't the NMC also trim its budget?

    In fact... as a regulatory body... what does the NMC do that the UKCC didn't already do at half the price?

    Be honest, paying the NMC is like saying "here's a load of dosh - now beat me up"... Oh wait... that's exactly what happened in the Clint Eastwood film "Dirty Harry"...

    But nowadays Clint just talks to empty chairs... The NMC's got one of those too!

    What a coincidence!

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  • Well I don't agree with Susan - this is not a good editorial at all. It misses the point that the NMC closely with a Royal College have overseen the real demise of a profession which captured the words 'care, dignity and compassion' in its code and it's practices.

    The NMC have destroyed the nurse education process by its stupid Project 2000 which was a pilot that they did not evaluate.
    The ambitious nurses and the trade union nurses saw an opportunity here to feather their nests, create huge pre-reg university departments which did not deliver this true nature of nursing; and the RCN - the so called trade union pushed hard on terms and conditions and supporting bad nurses maintain their status and power. The RCN destroyed its professional status (the art and science of nursing) and now oversees the odd campaign when the media gets too interested in bad practice.
    What they both should have been doing is lobby and try to alter the way the managerial model in the NHS demoted nursing practice and destroyed its core value to patients.

    I absolutely despair - quite a few of us shouted very loud between the late eighties and 2000 but all to no avail.
    At the end of the day being the lead in the RCN and the NMC was about salary and a power trip.

    Wales took a brave decision to produce a nursing degree but sadly did not have the quality and number of leaders to make it become so different in quality from the rest of the UK. This was because the NMC had a such a poor lead for the right content and process of pre-reg and did not monitor the delivery in the way it should.

    I know that some people will say that it is no good looking back but isn't nursing practice about reflecting and changing.

    Come on - someone set up an alternative to the RCN which concentrates on the real art and science of nursing and not pander to its members and promote bad practice.

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  • Adedapo Haastrup

    Why should we pay £100 when the Council members are highly incompetent unreliable and unsupportive of registants. I think its time for a revolt.I am sure Nurses who have been treated unfairly by The Council should and will support my views .We pay so much already any way why should we pay more?We a Nurse is faced by difficult situations and circumstances the very Council we've been paying so much to will be so swift to turn such Nurses into scape- goats,whether found guilty or not guilty.So comrades I say,WHY PAY MORE?

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  • I have to agree with anonymous about the damage the NMC has done to nurse education. You only have to read a students placement document to see there is nothing but abstract principles for mentors to assess. Not so sure about the RCN but the NMC is a disgrace.

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  • Many of the problems faced by the NMC in the past and which it continues to face are due to poor management both at council and senior staff level. Many of the managers are still there perhaps in different roles and until that is remedied perhaps we wont see much change in the public face of the NMC. However a key fact of the NMC's failings over the years is that it has spent too much time misunderstanding its role as a statutory regulator - it exists to protect the public not the nursing and midwifery profession. This is emphasised by this editorial refereing to the NMC's members as opposed to their correct term of registrant. Its FtP function is failing in large part because there is insufficient funds available - the need to increase the fee level is long overdue. If Nurses are concerned about paying this fee, they should take a look at the fee levels imposed on dental nurses and their salaries (higher and lower respectively). The time for self regulation within the NMC is long over which is unfortunate as this should be highly valued by registrants.

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  • Anonymous | 31-Oct-2012 1:35 pm

    The way that the NMC has conducted ftp hearings is an absolute disgrace. There is and has always been plenty of money to carry out this function. But it has been carried out in a wasteful and grossly inefficient manner. The NMC itself has been mired, (for years), in a culture of bullying and intimidation. Read any CHRE report in recent years for evidence. The NMC is not fit for purpose and has not been for a very long time. Scrap it and start again with an effective regulatory body. Then talk to us about fees.

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  • Susan Markham
    Cocaine suppositories. Suppose that explains why you are always talking out of your arse

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  • project 2000 has very little to do with the nmc. It had everything to do with removing a culture of nursing that was not academic. You may have felt that your training was complete but a brief look at nursing worldwide showed precisely the opposite. In fact it is only because nursing is in universities that it can attract people who don't have the urge to do it. It is this kind of old fashioned thinking that keeps up out of the protective cushion of professionalism. That is was taught by those who thought it inferior immediately doomed it. It was far from perfect but it was better than the sexually orientated apprenticeships of the past. If the old style of training was so good why was it replaced? That said, of course the NMC is out of touch- however they can rely on our divisiveness to reap our cash whilst we squabble and do nothing useful whilst we whine over which obviously inferior style of training was/is the best. Their detachment from us is nothing more than your detachment from them and the real issues within our sphere.

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  • Anonymous | 1-Nov-2012 1:35 am

    Susan Markham
    Cocaine suppositories. Suppose that explains why you are always talking out of your arse

    I could not agree more! Maybe you Susan should be taken to FtP as I am sure cocaine impairs your Fitness to Practice...

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  • I love that you haven't understood at all that Susan Markham is clearly being ironic when she talks about cocaine suppositories. Come on guys! Sense of humour bypass (by the way, that's not a real operation - thought I'd better make that clear).

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  • As someone who once tried to rally the profession to fight, usually to a sea of apathy and the odd wave of derision, I don't feel totally out of line saying well what did you all expect to happen? You only have yourselves to blame, and you all as a collective profession should be ashamed of yourselves for your apathy and lack of action on ANY issue that has affected nursing!

    It's a disgrace that we have to pay the NMC at all, there are no words for the fact that now you will have to pay almost double. Your pay is being eroded more and more each day, when it is ALREADY vastly undervalued from the pay level nurses SHOULD be on. For those of you still in the NHS pension scheme? Take it and run NOW if you can. If you can't, well good luck! You'll need it! Should I get started on working conditions? Ward Politics? Pah!

    Well I'm out of it now. I got sick and tired of it all. My mind, body and soul could no longer take the punishment that is the nursing 'profession'. And no, I didn't retire, still 20 or 30 odd years away from that yet. I found a better job. Simple as that. One where I am respected, better treated and better paid. It is an absolute disgrace that I (and others) even had to feel that nursing is no longer worth it.

    But as a final Hurrah,a salute to a profession I used to love, I will urge you ALL to do one final thing.

    When the letter comes through the door, REFUSE to pay it! Send them a letter back stating that you will pay the previous fee, and no more. If they do not like it, then they can have nothing. Cancel your direct debits so that they don't take it out automatically. Get the unions involved if they threaten to remove you from the register. What will the NMC do, chuck you ALL off the register? So what if they do? They need you to survive more than you need them. They will not exist without nurses, there will still be a need for nurses without the NMC. They need to be remindd of that fact.

    But this will only work en masse.

    Do not pay. If you do, you may as well just bend over and forego your pay altogether. After all, we can all pay our bills on altruism, right?

    RIP NHS, RIP nursing. You served with distinction. Once.

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  • Mike
    Did you ever get to Oz? As for asking the nurses to strike, they'd much rather report each other to the NMC for forgetting to sign for paracetamol 4 years ago then ever challenge their 'betters'. A group of ( mostly male) tube drivers want a 10% increase or they'll cause disruption for the nations sports day ( how long ago does the Olympics seem now!) and get it.
    A group of ( mostly female) nurses get their pensions robbed, and have the dubious honour of working a decade longer for it, with no staff, no promotion prospects, little professional esteem, reduced pay and conditions and they bend over and take it like the good little girls they are because the patients will suffer, little knowing that by not fighting they are suffering already.
    I am beginning to wonder whether we should have an all-male nursing union ( before you all scream the teachers have a very successful WOMENS union) to represent this minority group of nurses. Wonder how long it would take us to fight for our conditions, and after how long our demands would be listened to. Wouldn't be long I'd bet.

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  • tinkerbell

    mike | 2-Nov-2012 9:13 pm

    'Sea of apathy' yeah i know what that group look like where i worked. All looking at me like i had 2 heads when i asked what they thought about it all and if they were prepared to take any action.

    redpaddys12 | 3-Nov-2012 3:34 am

    What are you trying to insert?

    But if you do form an all male union can some of us alpha females join incognito?

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  • tinkerbell
    Of course you and Mags ( and a few others) can join, there will be fake beards all round ( think the Life of Brian) and clay pipes for all!
    As for insertions, well I think we're all biting the pillow these days, wouldn't surprise me if it burst out of our collective ears!

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  • tinkerbell

    the NMC, they're barking. Padded cell is what they need.

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  • Yes, it's unfair that we have another increase in our registration fees but lets not get this out of proportion. It works out out at 0.6 per cent of a newly qualified nurses salary and much less a percentage of an experienced higher grade nurse.

    Mike,
    it was bad enough having to put up with your ranting when you were a nurse. If your new job is as wonderful as you say why are you spending so much time reminiscing on here.

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  • Anonymous | 5-Nov-2012 9:35 am, and thank you for reminding me of one of the many reasons I am better off away from this so called profession.

    I have had the privilege of working with some wonderful nurses over the years, but in general nursing is the most bitter, twisted, bitchy and nasty workplaces I have ever had the misfortune to come across. So thank you of being a shining example of that. Adios.

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  • mike | 7-Nov-2012 0:43 am

    Well said, as usual, Mike. I have always enjoyed your rants and hope to continue reading them.

    Unfortunately, there are those here who continue to think that not being a nurse (although, I think you stated elsewhere that your registration remains current), somehow precludes you from holding an opinion or having the right to express it. Perhaps, the question being asked here should be why experienced, compassionate and articulate nurses leave the profession?

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  • Thank you mags.

    Yeah, my registration remains current although that will change when this proposed fee rise comes in. And despite leaving the profession, my interest in keeping up to date with clinical knowledge hasn't seemed to wane, which is why I tend to read a lot.

    But I think to be honest that the question should be why experienced, compassionate and articulate nurses STAY in the profession, given the way they are treated?

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