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NMC fee to rise to £100 in February


Nurses will pay £100 to register with the Nursing and Midwifery Council from February, following a decision by the regulator today.  

The NMC council has chosen to increase the fee by 32% from £76 to £100 for two years, after which it will rise to £120. This replaces its original plan to move straight to £120 in January 2013, which would have represented a 58% increase.

The fee rise will have to approved by the Privy Council. However, today’s decision at the NMC council’s latest meeting in London seemingly brings to an end the saga that first erupted in May, when it first proposed increasing the fee.

Since then the NMC has doggedly stuck to its position that the hike is necessary to shore up its finances and protect the public, despite anger from registrants and opposition from unions.

Its current registration fee of £76 per annum was implemented in August 2007, and generates income of £52m per annum. However, the regulator has seen a significant rise in fitness to practise referrals in recent years, which it predicts will rise even further over the next few years.

According to council papers, direct expenditure on fitness to practise in 2011-2012 was £31m, a 50% increase on the prior year. Total NMC revenue expenditure was £61m and total revenue was £53m, creating a deficit of £8m, which was effectively funded by reserves.

The government offered the regulator a grant of £20m earlier this month to ease its financial problems and negate the need for such a steep fee hike. The NMC chose to accept the grant at the meeting today.

The regulator’s ruling council discussed four options this morning at its latest meeting, some of which included accepting the grant and some not.

One option would have seen no fee increase and the £20m grant accepted. But it would almost certainly have resulted in a scaling back of fitness to practise and other regulatory activity, meaning the NMC would be failing to fulfil its core remit of public protection.

The second option would have seen the £20m grant rejected and resulted in the annual registration fee rise to £120 next year, as originally proposed by the NMC.

The third option, which was chosen by the majority of council members, will see the fee rise to £100 for two years and then £120 after that. This option includes the NMC accepting the government grant.

A fourth option would have seen the fee rise to £95 in 2013-14, £105 in 2014-2015, £120 in 2015-16.

As revealed by Nursing Times this week, the NMC has bowed to pressure and commissioned financial consultants KPMG to audit the sums behind its fee rise.

The regulator had previously rejected such a move and claimed its business case was sound, despite two letters from former health secretary Andrew Lansley asking it to commission the work.

The results of the KPMG review were also due to be presented this morning at the council meeting.

Despite being a lower fee hike than previously threatened, Unison descibed the 32% increase as “unfair and disproportionate” in the light of the £20m grant offered by the government.  

Unison head of nursing Gail Adams said: “This is an appalling move by the NMC. There is no justice in making nurses and midwives – who have had no pay rise for two years – pay for the past financial mismanagement of the NMC.

“The NMC could, and should have postponed this decision and used the time to rebuild the trust and confidence of registrants. There was nothing to stop the NMC from freezing registration fees and reviewing the situation next year; they could then use the grant to start addressing the backlog of fitness to practise cases.”

Royal College of Nursing chief executive and general secretary Peter Carter said: “Nurses across the UK have repeatedly objected to the proposed hike in NMC fees, at a time when many are struggling financially.

“We are staggered that with an increase of over 30%, the NMC is still asking for frontline nurses to pay the penalty for a problem which is not of their making. We are also staggered that nurses are still being asked to pay for the failures of their regulator, with no real assurance that the fundamental problems will be solved.

“We still need to see the outcome of a full financial audit, and the profession needs to have confidence that the lessons are learnt from this fiasco and that there will be ongoing, high-level scrutiny of the organisation. Without this, nurses and the government could end up throwing good money after bad.”

“The RCN welcomed the Department of Health’s offer, which our members have called for repeatedly. Now more than ever, they will want to be reassured about the long term future of their professional regulation. A strong and effective nursing regulator is vital for the public, patients and the future of the nursing profession.”

Louise Silverton, director for midwifery at the Royal College of Midwives, said: “‘The RCM has worked hard to get the best possible result for its members, and we are pleased that we’ve achieved something by lobbying for the £20m grant from the government that the NMC has accepted.

“Many of the NMC council members took on-board our concerns about the effects the fee increase will have, particularly on those who only work a few hours a week and on newly qualified midwives.”

She added: “No one is happy to see an increase, but the NMC have committed to an annual review of the situation which will allow us to see if the NMC’s assumptions about its finances are accurate. The NMC’s suggestion that fees could go down if predictions aren’t as they expect is welcome.”

More details on the NMC’s decision and response to follow. Follow @sjcalkin on Twitter for live updates from the meeting.


Readers' comments (67)

  • Brilliant!! We are in a recession (the worst for decades), have had to put up with pay freezes and now we have to pay more money for registration because some bean counter didn't do their maths properly in the first place!!! Is there a register we can have them struck off?? Once again, (along with my car insurance etc.) I am having to pay for someone else’s poor practice!

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  • SHAME ON YOU ..... NMC - you are holding us to ransom!! The surveys have demonstrated that 'we' as nurses/midwives totally reject the proposed rise.... this doesnt matter does it? If you havent enough money from us, then look at ways to be more efficient with the £52m you have from us... surely you can look at other ways apart from getting more money from us.. doing it this way you just as well put our yearly fee up to whatever you want, because without our registration, we cant work!! and you know this..... we have to pay whatever you say.... this doesnt give me much confidence in you as my professional body...

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  • Is this just a stay of execution ?
    While I accept the need for the NMC to uphold it's core responsibilities and protect the the public, it needs to start living within its means (we have to !). It's about time that there was a root and branch review of what the NMC does for Registrants (inc costs), and what it does for the public. And that any future increases are linked to public service pay levels, and are matched with internal efficiency savings too. This is a regulator whose only clout I feel in my pocket.

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  • Maybe if more thought and planning was put into recruitment (home and abroad) then less mistakes would happen? At least the NMC can now be put up in first class rooms for their hearings. Opps, forgot that happens already.
    I think the police should be informed, as the nursing profession is being robbed :-((

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  • Maybe it's time for us to have a look at what they are spending their money on. We have all had to cut down on luxuries and now even some necessities. Nursing is becoming an expensive occupation. To fund this I will have to look at what I can cut down on again to carry on working as a nurse.

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  • I think the nursing unions and professional associations need to get together and force a vote of no confidence in the NMC- we need a fit for purpose regulatory body - not this mickey mouse outfit

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  • Sold down the river yet again, but as previously said they have us by the short and curlies. We need to insist that the unions fight this and take the NMC to task, otherwise in 2 years time what will they be putting our fees up to then. Come on nurses and nursing unions, have some backbone and fight them all the way otherwise eventually it wont be worth working as a nurse as all your wages would have gone to other people.

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  • Go on what else can you hit me with?
    Has the NMC not realised that nurses have had their pay frozen, been subjected to rebanding, threatened with redundancy in the last 2-3 years.

    I hope that the staff at the NMC are subjected to the same treatment as we have had at the frontline.

    What will I need to give up in order to pay my fees in order to keep my job. Feel like a hamster in a wheel.

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  • Susan Markham

    Oh Dear......

    I see a lot of Qualified RNs shuffling off to better climes like Australia, Canada, The USA, New Zealand, Germany, France, Botswana, The Yukon Territories, The Shetland Isles, Jamaica, The Falklands, Hawaii, South Africa or even Nauru...

    The NMC is holding their subscribers by the "balls/lady bits/flappy things" just because they think they can...

    How soon will they realise that they cannot keep up their luxurious lifestyle by encouraging obviously erroneous "Fitness To Practice" cases to come up before them in their sumptuous/splendid London location?

    Word to the wise... "It was nice while it lasted dears - now you have to cut back on the Champagne and the Rollers"


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  • michael stone

    £100 and then £120 - what lovely 'neat' figures: obviously very much evidence-based on a seriously conducted study of how much money needs to be raised ! Not.

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  • Ellen Watters

    :(.. jeez just what we don't need on top of everything else.. No wonder morale is low and nurses are leaving in droves.

    It MIGHT be a bit easier if we were allowed to pay in monthly direct debits instead of having it all taken off in one payment chunk.. Or is this too complicated

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  • Susan Markham | 25-Oct-2012 1:43 pm

    Australian Regulator APHRA charge $160 for renewal and $40 for LATE renewal (something that the NMC do not charge for). So that works out £102 for renewal and £25 if you are late with renewing. With APHRA you need to register with each individual state.. Could work out expensive?

    New Zealand Nursing Council charge $110 for renewal which is £56.

    One of Canadas regulators, College and Association of Reg Nurses Alberta charge $546 for registration which is £341. Again, same as APHRA you have to register with each state.

    South African Nursing Council charge 490 SA Rand which is £34. A lot cheaper...

    Californian Nursing Board charge $140 which is around £86.

    Those are just a handful of your suggested ones Susan, not really better climes are they?

    At least in the UK we can claim our tax back on NMC fees which makes it a little better.

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  • Ellen Watters | 25-Oct-2012 2:10 pm

    Paying by monthly direct debit is a lot more complicated than we think.

    If you think about it, at the moment the fees are annually - if you pay late your registration lapses meaning you cannot leagally work and loose pay.

    Monthly direct debits then mean there is a monthly risk that your registration can lapse if a direct debit is unpaid.. Which can cause many implications for our trusts etc

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  • Unbelievable but then considering the way things are at present, not really. I can remeber paying £36 for 3 years when first qualified, so based on the low salary I got then, compared to the fantastic public sector salary I am on now (pay freeze, pension increases, pay cartel, sarcasim aside!!!), I reckon should be about £80 per 3 years!!! Need the unions to fight this otherwise really is getting to 'last one out turn off the light'.

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  • In response to this, I think a very good question is ... how do the NMC get through £31m on fitness to practise... just how many cases do they hear and what exactly are the costs... on what? I would love to know why it costs so much? We never seem to get any information as nurses. There is still £22m spend on other things.

    I know we will have to pay more for our union but that I do not mind so much as we need to protect ourselves. Did anyone hear the Moral Maze on radio 4 last night? Some woman ( I am not sure of her name as I only started listening in 3/4 of the way through), but she was publicly and what seemed to be ill-informedly denigrating nurses as if we are the whole problem with the NHS. I encourage as many people as possible to listen on the radio 4 equivalent of i-player. We need to defend ourselves. I will certainly try to find time to find out exactly who she was.

    We are having a huge fight (see RCN paper to the government) about the 1% cap on pay next year. We have in essence taken a pay cut with the previous 2 year freeze. We are meant to be accountable but what is going on in the NMC?

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  • Total Disgrace. no pay rise, single parent might aswell hand over the PIN number and scrounge off the state!

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  • This is a bold statement saying they will do what as they like.
    Fees in other countries might be higher, but the work does not carry the stress as here in England. I have observed nurses in other countries at work and I dream on that my job could be so enjoyable.

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  • Outraged and disgusted at this decision. Are nurses ever listened to?

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  • What are the unions doing about this? The same as they did about pensions and pay freeze - absolutely nothing. Why do we pay any of these people for them to go cow-towing to management. They absolutely do NOT represent the people who pay them i.e. members. As others have pointed out, health trusts and NMC have got nurses by the balls. And to make it worse, nurses just roll over and play dead as usual. When are you going to take action? If we all fight this together they will have to back down. Employers obviously think we are an easy target, we are supposed to be professionals, and yet we are paid less than garbage collectors.

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  • I bet the majority of fitness to practice referrals are due to people making mistakes, being stressed out, due to the volume of work, poor staffing levels, and increase in extra responsibilities given to nurses without managing to attend training for these extra tasks due to poor staffing levels, volume of work, and the cycle goes on.

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