This week the Nursing and Midwifery Council is expected to decide whether or not to go ahead with its fee hike, bringing to an end the saga that first erupted in May.
Since then the NMC has doggedly stuck to its position that the hike is necessary to protect the public, despite anger from registrants, opposition from unions and barely disguised disquiet in Whitehall.
There are the obvious criticisms of the unfairness of such a steep fee rise at a time when nurses are already being financially squeezed. However, much of the furore has focused on the reliability of sums behind the proposed rise, from £76 to £120, based as it is largely on fi nancial predictions rather than certainties.
The NMC has been under pressure to get its maths checked by an external auditor and was urged to do so by former health secretary Andrew Lansley. The regulator’s determination to be seen as independent - heightened since ministerial intervention in appointing its new chair - seemingly led it to reject such a move.
However, Nursing Times has learnt that an audit has now taken place. We should fi nd out the results of KPMG’s financial analysis at Thursday’s NMC council meeting, where it could be a key factor in deciding whether the fee rise goes ahead or not. Either way, the much-needed transparency it will bring is to be welcomed.
The NMC’s council will also decide at the meeting whether or not to accept the government’s offer of a £20m grant. Rejecting the grant on grounds of a perceived threat to its independence would be wholly unacceptable and surely be viewed as the final straw by the profession.
The prevailing wind suggests the regulator will increase the registration fee but to a lesser degree than originally planned. Nursing Times will be attending the NMC’s council meeting on Thursday and you can keep up to date with the key decisions taken on nursingtimes.net or by following @sjcalkin on Twitter.
Last week I also had the pleasure of attending this year’s Mary Seacole Awards for nurses and midwives who have made a significant contribution to the healthcare needs of black and minority ethnic patients.
Senior nurses at the event used the words “fantastic”, “extraordinary” and “inspirational” to describe the award winners’ achievements. That tells you all you need to know. We are looking forward to seeing more remarkable individuals at our own Nursing Times Awards next week.