A petition calling on the government to review the process through which the Nursing and Midwifery Council decides its annual registration fee has already been signed by 50,000 people.
The online petition was started last Wednesday by Stephen Iwasyk, a mental health liaison nurse at Hertfordshire Partnership University Foundation Trust.
The petition was sparked by a warning from the NMC that its financial situation will be “unsustainable” in future without a further rise in the annual registration fee.
The regulator’s latest finance report, presented at the NMC’s January council meeting, shows it is expecting to end the current financial year with a deficit of £7.3m, which it stated “was unsustainable in future years without a fee rise”.
The petition states: “We would like the government to review the NMC with regard to the fees charged to registered nurses and midwives, and the processes through which those fees are decided.
“The fees were increased two years ago from £76 to £100, following a consultation that was overwhelmingly against the rise.”
The concerns raised by the petition could be debated by MPs if it is signed by 100,000 people. It passed the halfway point to this total on the afternoon of 10 February, today, less than a week after it was set up on the government’s website.
Mr Iwasyk set up a similar petition in 2012 when the regulator attempted to increase the annual registration fee from £76 to £120. It gained 75,769 signatures and prompted the Department of Health to issue a statement in response.
On that occasion, following a £20m grant from the government, the NMC relented and opted instead to up the fee to £100 in February 2013 for two years. However, the NMC’s financial strategy for the period 2012-16 allows for it to revisit an increase to £120 from March 2015.
An NMC spokeswoman said: “As the two years of additional funding provided by the government draws to a close, the NMC council will be reviewing the current fee structure at their March 2014 council meeting.
“This is in line with the NMC’s commitment to review fees on an annual basis,” she said. “The NMC council will have the final decision on whether a fee consultation needs to take place.”
The Royal College of Nursing and Unison have both condemned any increase in registration fee.
Unison head of nursing Gail Adams said today: “Nurses and midwives have no choice, if they don’t pay their registration fee they can’t practice. So they will be understandably angry if that fee was to increase again.
“Nurses and midwives have been struggling with pay freezes and a huge increase in their workload. The last thing they need is an inflated registration fee,” she said.
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