The Nursing and Midwifery Council is expected to make savings of around £60m over the next decade due to changes to legislation that will speed up its fitness to practise activities, but the extra money will not be used to reduce registrant fees, official documents suggest.
The extra cash will instead be ploughed into activities such as revalidation and its work around education and setting standards, the NMC has indicated.
The Department of Health launched a consultation on changes to the law affecting regulation last year and yesterday published its findings along with an assessment of the financial implications.
In its response, it said it planned to go ahead with all proposed changes, including allowing the NMC to make some FtP decisions faster and without the need to hold an expensive hearing.
According to its financial assessment, the DH estimated that speeding up the FtP process would save the regulator a total of £62.1m over 10 years.
In contrast, other legislative changes affecting midwifery supervision, which the DH aims to bring in at the same time, are expected to lead to a small increase in NMC costs, of around £2.4m.
The changes will see an end to statutory supervision for midwives and lead to the NMC having greater involvement in their regulation from the outset, which is expected to result in a rise in FtP referrals and therefore costs.
“The assumption is that the NMC pass on any additional costs/savings on to individual registrants in the form of higher/lower fees”
Government response to consultation
Considering both of these changes, overall the NMC is estimated to make a £59.7m saving over the next decade, according to the DH.
In a document published yesterday, the DH said its assessment was based on the assumption “that the NMC pass on any additional costs/savings on to individual registrants in the form of higher/lower fees”. But it also acknowledged “this may not necessarily be the case”.
It did, however, note that other regulators had in the past lowered their fees as a result of becoming more efficient – which was the case with the General Chiropractic Council in 2011.
But an NMC response statement included within the DH document indicated that any savings it made from the legislation changes would not be used to lower fees.
It said the money would be used to invest in the regulator’s other programmes of work – including education, setting standards, and revalidation – or to offset rising annual costs from increasing numbers of FtP referrals.
Responding to the DH’s decision to go ahead with plans to reform FtP and midiwifery supervision legislation, NMC chief executive and registrar Jackie Smith said: “I have long maintained that our current legal framework is out of date and in need of significant reform and I am pleased that the government has recognised this.
“We have worked closely with the Department of Health on these important changes which will enable us to become a more efficient and effective regulator, better able to protect the public,” she said.
The NMC confirmed to Nursing Times that once the legislation changes were in place it would be in a better position to comment on the impact on its budget, but that it expected to reinvest any savings into its other programmes of work.