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NMC poised to decide on unpopular fee rise plans this week

  • 19 Comments

The nursing regulator is strongly expected to rubber-stamp plans to increase the annual registration fee from £100 to £120 at its latest council meeting this week.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council seems determined to introduce the fee rise, despite an angry response to the plans from registrants. It argues that the 20% rise in the fee is necessary for its long-term financial stability and, therefore, its ability to protect patients.  

A three-month consultation on the unpopular plans to up the fee closed on 31 July. The NMC’s council will consider the outcome of the consultation at its meeting on 1 October and, if agreed, could seek to introduce the fee rise from March 2015.

However, unions have condemned the potential fee rise, coming as it does against the background of a pay dispute with the government.

They have claimed that increasing the registration fee could damage efforts to retain highly skilled nursing staff to the NHS at a time when the service is facing a major staffing shortage.

The regulator first attempted to increase the annual registration fee to £120 in 2012. But following a one-off £20m government grant, the NMC instead upped the fee to £100 for two years in February 2013.

However, the NMC’s long-term financial strategy allowed for it to revisit an increase to £120 from March 2015, which it is currently doing less than two years after the last increase.

In February, the NMC warned that its financial situation would be “unsustainable” in future without a further rise in the annual registration fee.

Its financial strategy requires it to maintain available free reserves of between £10m and £25m to cope with changes in fitness to practice trends. In August, its reserves were £9.7m, meaning it was already in breach of its policy.

During the current 2014-15 financial year, the NMC expects £68m of its total £71m income to come from registration fee payments.

In their responses to the consultation, submitted in August, Unison and the Royal College of Nursing urged the NMC to find other ways to balance its books rather than passing on its funding problems to registrants. Unison called for it to review costly fitness to practise referrals to ensure they were appropriate, noting that only 0.6% of registrants ever had their fitness to practise questioned.

Meanwhile, a nurse-led petition calling on the government to review the process the NMC uses to decide its annual registration fee has so far been signed by over 105,000 people.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council

The regulator does however appear to be making moves to try and soften the potential blow of a fee increase.

Last month it launched a consultation on rule changes which would enable nurses and midwives to pay the annual registration fee in instalments.

Depending on the result of the consultation, which closes on 3 October, the NMC said it expects to have fully functioning system of paying registration fees in instalments in place from 2016.

Meanwhile, the regulator has also highlighted that most registered nursing staff are still failing to claim back the tax relief they are due on the annual fee.

The NMC said last week that 70% of nurses and midwives were not claiming tax relief on their annual registration fee.

Nurses and midwives are eligible to claim tax relief on the NMC annual registration fee, which is worth £20 per year at the current fee level of £100.

  • 19 Comments

Readers' comments (19)

  • I feel that the central issues, regarding NMC fees in general, are those of transparency and accountability. The NMC is simply not doing enough to justify its present fees, let alone demand more. Then we have both the RCN and the NMC and their separate functions are not always clear. All bodies that represent nurses must state rather more explicitly what their roles are and how they spend our money. Would not the creation of a single professional body for nurses, as with doctors, be an advantage? Then we would be aware of what money was needed and for what purposes.

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  • Having been involved in NMC hearings that occur in London it's no wonder it's in financial difficulty. The NMC funds the entire expenses package of all involved for traveling down to London, trains, taxis and hotels etc. So, why don't they travel to the appropriate areas of the country to save money? One case involved accommodation in one hotel (the venue for one hearing already) but requiring travel to another hotel holding the hearing needed to attend! The obvious solution need not be explained! Ergo, if the NMC sorted out it's administration and took hearings to appropriate areas we would all be happy. That at the end of the day is where the bulk of the registration fee goes.

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  • No pay rise but an increase in fees.......I wonder why many are leaving the profession !

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  • This is the government's opportunity to fund their espoused 'commitment to patient care'. The NMC fulfil a vital role for the patients, public and to our professional status. We already cover our part of this through the annual fee, perhaps the government (who wish to appear like the patient's champions) should extend their grant to the NMC.
    In return for this, the NMC should be more transparent and accountable for the money that they spend.

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  • Ellen Watters

    Anonymous | 29-Sep-2014 12:22 pm

    I agree, shocking waste of money. The consideration to be able to pay by monthly direct debit will help though..

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  • foxygeri44

    i fear the instalments will not be 'monthly' as the NMC have already stated that they would not be able to police continual payments.more like quarterly payments. as regards comments posted about venues and cost etc. have the NMC not heard of skype? the NMC are continuing to fail and it is us nurses who are paying the price.it is a foregone conclusion tht the fee will rise. the question is when will it stop?

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  • you've had it cheap for a long time compared with other professional bodies. I guess like everybody else charges have to be made realistically on lien with today's rising prices.
    the question is whether nurses wish to achieve professional status or whether they just wish it to be a job like any other.

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  • Anonymous 29-Sep-2014 2:04 pm

    Nurses may pay less annual fees than Physios etcetera, but then the NMC is a failing institution and has been heavily criticised. If they we performing as they should then they could argue for the rise; they aren't so I think any rise in unjustifiable at this time.

    The amount someone pays to their 'professional' body is no indication of their professional status you moron.

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  • Get the NMC hearings out of London and into the Regions - that will see expenses drop like a stone.

    Getting out of London full stop may be the next step after that.

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  • Anonymous 29-Sep-2014 2:04 pm - A response!

    Are you perhaps a doctor or better still somebody who know what they are talking about? Neither I fear!

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