The Nursing and Midwifery Council has insisted the business case for its proposed fee hike is “sound”, following news that the health secretary has told it to carry out an independent audit of the plans.
The troubled nursing regulator also warned in a statement that any delay in the implementation of the unpopular 58% rise in the registration fee will have a “negative impact” on the public protection.
The comments from the NMC’s council come in response to revelations on Monday that Andrew Lansley had ordered the regulator to “explore all possible options to avoid” the proposed hike in annual fees from £76 to £120.
Nursing Times understands the new NMC chair Mark Addison, whose appointment was unveiled by the DH last week, will also be keen to assure himself that the fee rise is necessary when he joins the NMC in September.
But the regulator said it had already received “external assurance” about its business case for the fee rise, and had actively kept the Department of Health informed of its parlous financial position.
Consultants KPMG are understood to have previously reviewed the calculations used by the NMC to produce the fitness to practise budget upon which the case for the fee rise is based.
The response from the NMC council represents further defiance from the regulator, which is already angry that the government has intervened in the appointments process of its chair and chief executive.
In its statement, a spokesman said: “The NMC’s council has sought and received external assurance that the business case for the fee rise is financially sound, and this advice was taken into account in the proposals set out in the fee rise consultation document, published on 1 June.
“We have actively shared and continue to share information about the NMC’s financial position and the proposed fee rise with the Department of Health, the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence, and the unions.”
He added: “Council remains concerned that further delays in implementing a fee rise will have a negative impact on public protection.”