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'It’s the responsibility of all nurses to maintain registration'


‘Nurses and midwives practising without registration are taking a significant legal risk, being on the register is key to enabling high standards of care’ says Dickon Weir-Hughes

As I was going through my post the other day, along with the usual invitations to annual conferences, there was a letter from a nurse. The correspondent, apparently a nurse of some 15 years’ experience, has recently received a registration renewal letter from us. She is writing to protest about the annual £76 fee. “Why must I pay to work?” she asks, filling the remaining pages of her letter questioning what is in it for her.

Fortunately, very few nurses and midwives seem to view their Nursing and Midwifery Council registration as a sort of tax on their chosen career. Most practising nurses and midwives are proud to be registered and understand the importance of registration to public protection.
Aside from it being illegal to practise without registration, being on the NMC’s register is key to enabling us to maintain high standards of care.

It is also:

  • The reason why the public trust you to take care of them when they are at their most vulnerable;
  • Recognition of your professional qualification;
  • Something that unites all nurses and midwives, empowering you to be an advocate for your patients, clients and the community.

The vast majority of nurses and midwives work to the high standards we set and deliver excellent care. However, there are those, wilfully or otherwise, who fall short of the attitude, knowledge and skills required to practise safely. They put not only the reputation of the whole profession but also the safety of patients on the line. This group is small - the number of people referred to us accounts for less than 1% of those registered by the NMC.

These individuals will be working with other nurses or midwives in some capacity, such as being on the same shift or through supervision. I’ve no doubt, from my own experience working on wards, that nurses and midwives may at some point have serious concerns about the care being provided by a colleague.

It is in the interest of every nurse and midwife to ensure the integrity of the register. One of the ways this is done is by weeding out those unsuited to share the title of registered nurse or midwife. The NMC code makes this clear and the guidance on raising and escalating concerns that we sent you supports you when speaking with your employer. Our fitness to practise processes exist to protect the public.

The other way of ensuring the integrity of the register is by making sure your registration does not lapse. It is a criminal offence to falsely represent yourself as a registered nurse or midwife. Nurses and midwives practising without registration are taking a significant legal risk.

I have written to every nursing director about the issue of lapsed registration, reminding them of their responsibility to ensure that their nurses and midwives possess an effective NMC registration at all times. But while employers have a clear duty to regularly check the registration status of their nursing and midwifery staff, it is the individual responsibility of every nurse and midwife to maintain registration.

I, for one, am proud to be on the register. I also hope that those who are less enthusiastic but who read this find their own reasons to value their registration. I would encourage all nurses and midwives to tell the people in your care that you are registered with the NMC, leaving them safe in the knowledge that the care they receive is of the highest quality.

Dickon Weir-Hughes is the chief executive and registrar for the Nursing and Midwifery Council


Readers' comments (36)

  • I too are proud to be on the register, but £76 annually is too expensive. When I qualified many years ago, we just paid a one off fee, and were told we wouldn't have to pay again; Ha ha!!

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  • Exactly anon, it is an absolute joke the money we pay, and what do we get back in return exactly? Nothing!!! The NMC don't even fight FOR us, they fight AGAINST our professiona ll too often!

    "very few nurses and midwives seem to view their Nursing and Midwifery Council registration as a sort of tax on their chosen career"??? Rubbish! A LOT of us see it as a tax on our career!! And a ridiculously high one for that!

    Also,"enabling us to maintain high standards of care". How exactly???? Do you offer us free and regular skills updates for our fee? Do you offer subsidised courses or further education? NO!!!!!!! Instead, you simply witchhunt our profession.

    It is about time the NMC is scrapped and replaced with a system similar to the GMC, who'se remit it is to fight FOR Doctors.

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  • if you live and work abroad and wish to remain on the register it costs the same but you no longer get any mailings apart from the annual renewal notice.

    i am very proud to be on the uk register but i would also like to be kept informed through newsletters other than on the internet, with further costs for the privilege.

    As this fee only covers maintaining a name on a register one could equally chose to have one's name only on the register of the country one is working in which is what I would consider if there was an increase in NMC fees. At least is now annual instead of three yearly which together with the RCN membership with indemnity insurance was almost unaffordable and bad news when you may be coming up to retirement or wish to cease your registration for whatever other reasons.

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  • The NMC says "Our fitness to practise processes exist to protect the public." So why do the nurses on the register have to pay to protect the public. Why not let the public pay to maintain the register and to apply the fitness to practise processes? I am happy to pay union fees because the unions do fight for and protect nurses. I will be retiring in one month but have just had to pay £76 to stay on the register for four weeks although I am off sick at the moment. So, I had to pay £76 to not practise for a month!!! I asked the NMC for guidance and a reduction in fees but they said as long as I am being paid for being a nurse I have to pay the full NMC fees.

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  • I also live and work abroad and pay the same fee as UK registered staff.
    I too am proud to be on the uk register. I am also registered in the country where I live and work, My employer pays the registrations fees here as it is a requirement of my job.
    I have suggested to the NMC they should have a caterogy for staff who work abroad who wish to maintain their UK registration but receive no other benefits- no response to that question.
    Publications are not sent out to us overseas, when asked I got the reply `you can access them on the internet` My response was so can anyone else, either send them to everyone or not at all. No response again.
    It is a struggle to pay the yearly fees with the conversion rate from the country i work in, I continue to register in case
    i have to come back to the UK for a family emergency and need to work to support myself.
    Would happily pay a maintenance fee with a additional fee if i return to the UK.

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  • from Anonymous | 17-May-2011 9:48 pm

    all employees nowadays seem to have to follow guidelines and are no longer able or perhaps capable of thinking outside the box to apply the rules to individual needs. i have discovered this again and again when i return to the uk and need a service or information about one and unfortunately those in the registry office are no exception. you either pay your fee the same as a uk resident or you don't and it is your own bad luck if you do not fit into their box.

    I entirely agree with all the other posts above and I too had to pay for a whole year about four weeks before retirement but also decided it was useful to have a further year in case circumstances changed during that year and I found myself in the unfortunate position of having to get a job in the uk again but hopefully at the end of this year i will not need to renew again and can save the money to buy or do something nice instead.

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  • why does the author's name not appear with this article? as the nmc do not send information to nurses abroad even though they pay the same fees as in the uk and we don't all have the expensive luxury of the internet how are we supposed to know who is who at the nmc, and who is Nick?

    When i did once ring at great expense from abroad as I needed some information from the reg. department i was met with stereotype information all recited as if learnt off pat which did not apply to my query or my situation and then was met with extreme rudeness from someone who obviously did not have much clue or telephone manner. first she did not wish to speak to me and tried to dismiss me with the excuse that their computers were down and then i pointed out that my question was general and she did not need to call up my details. However I did not get a very satisfactory reply although my query was straightforward.

    do all the staff there suffer from over-inflated egos? are they nurses, or do they have some sort of other qualifications to enable them to answer nurses' queries adequately?

    In view of the fees we pay and the number of fees they collect they should in return be capable of providing us with some sort of service, as well as support, in the way we provide this to the general public.

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  • The Executive Nurse at South Essex Partnership MHT had at least a 3 year lapse in NMC registration, a statutory offence under Article 44 - hence NMC making noises about this at the moment - but due to rank, does not appear to have suffered any consequences - those lower down the pecking order would have got suspended or asked to work on a Band 3!!!!

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    Paste this into your browser to see the orignal letter from Professor Weir Hughes

    Good to have transparency

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  • If it goes up any more I wont bother registering. Like some of the people above I work overseas- have done for 9 years- and keep my UK registration but am beginning to wonder why.
    I have also asked why we are not send publications overseas and also got the same answer as above- you can access it on the internet. Poor deal. They can send their request for money to me every year ok!

    The fact that so many of these comments are from overseas staff show that we are keen to stay in touch and interested in whats going on.
    Dont suppose the MNC will listen to our request- when i have contacted them i have also got either nowhere or a scripted answer that hasnt helped.

    So- what do i get from seventy six pounds a year? My name on the register and a yearly bill.
    The reason i keep paying is that i have been told it could take me months to get re-registered should i have to return to the UK. Based on pervious contact I have had with the NMC i beleive that and keep paying.
    I am proud to be on the register, but the service is not what it used to be.

    Nurses dont have a choice, they have to pay it to work.

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