The Nursing and Midwifery Council has warned it would be forced to increase its member registration fees again if changes are made to funding for the regulatory body that oversees its work.
The NMC said it would have “no option” but to pass on the cost to its members if the Department of Health decided the nine professional regulators should be made to pay for the work of the Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care.
In response to a consultation by the Department of Health – which currently funds the PSA – the NMC highlighted it had already decided to increase its annual registration fees from £100 to £120.
“We will have no option but to pass on this cost to our registrants, having already made the difficult decision to increase our registration fee to £120”
“We will have no option but to pass on this cost to our registrants having already made the difficult decision to increase our registration fee from £100 to £120 from February 2015,” it said in a statement.
The NMC is almost entirely funded by registrant fees, which it claimed were set at the “absolute minimum” to directly cover its regulation activities. It argued that the DH’s suggestion that itself and the other regulators would be able to absorb the PSA charge instead of passing it onto nurses and midwives was “disingenuous”.
“We have already committed to making over £50m of efficiency savings by 2016-17. There is no further scope to make savings without adversely affecting or progress with fitness to practise,” it said.
The nursing regulator also claimed that the proposed timescale for implementation – from April 2015 – was unreasonable, because this would not provide sufficient time for the NMC to consult on a fee increase with its members.
“Given it takes almost 12 months to consult on and secure a fee increase and a further 12 months for the full effect of that fee income to be realised, any implementation date should be from April 2016 at the earliest,” said the NMC.
The NMC also pointed out that because it has the largest number of members compared to the eight other professional regulators – including the General Medical Council and General Dental Council – it would end up cross subsidising them.
It claimed that if the proposals were approved it would cost the NMC between £1.7m and £3.9m per year – equating to between £2.63 and £5.73 annually per nurse or midwife – over the next decade.
The NMC said: “We strongly disapprove of the Department of Health’s preferred option for implementing a levy on the professional regulators in order to fund the PSA.
“We urge the Department of Health to pause and reconsider,” it stated. “Any new proposal should be based on a regulator’s income, ability to pay and the actual costs to the PSA of performing its oversight functions to that regulator.”