Annual membership fees for the Royal College of Nursing could increase by as much as £35 over the next five years, following a vote at the body’s annual general meeting this week.
Last year nurses defied RCN leadership by rejecting a small increase in subscription rates for 2013. The council had argued the increase was necessary to meet the growing demand for services from members due to increasing pressure on terms and conditions from employers.
But at this year’s annual general meeting members agreed to put the decision back in the hands of the RCN Council, which will now set membership fees up to 2018.
The council said it would take financial pressures on nurses into account when setting fees and “always consult with members through boards and branches before making a decision”.
It promised fees for 2014 would increase by no more than one per cent – the equivalent of 16 pence a month for nurse members.
After that the council pledged it would not set an increase higher than four per cent in any one year.
If the maximum increase is implemented every year this would see the annual membership fee for registered nurses increase from £194.88 to £230.26 by 2018 and from £97.44 to £115.13 for healthcare assistants.
When the council was responsible for setting subscription rates between 2007 and 2012 increases remained below inflation.
RCN general secretary Peter Carter said the college had managed to make efficiency savings over the past year “while continuing to support the growing demand for member services”.
He added: “However, this was not a sustainable or long-term plan, which is why it is such good news that members have voted to allow council to approve a small rise if necessary, to ensure we can make long-term financial plans and safeguard investment in member services.”
A decision on whether fees will go up next year will be made at the council’s meeting in November.