An overwhelming majority of nurse union members have registered their opposition to the fee hike proposed by the Nursing and Midwifery Council.
Almost all respondents to surveys by Unison (98%), Unite (98%) and the Royal College of Nursing (99.3%) said they opposed the plans to increase the NMC registration fee.
The surveys were carried out to inform the unions’ formal response to the NMC’s consultation on the fee increase plans (see links on the right), which would see it rise in January from £76 to £120.
The polls also explored views on other funding methods for professional regulation, asking nurses whether or not they thought the government should contribute to the running of the NMC.
Around 87% of the RCN’s 85,000 survey respondents said the government should contribute.
More than 80% of RCN members also said they did not think the nursing regulator should still be expected to pay over £800,000 towards the running of the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence, the body which oversees the NMC.
Similarly, more than half of Unison respondents also backed the view that it was the duty of the government to step in and bail the NMC out.
In addition, only 45% of Unison respondents said they had any confidence left in the NMC and only 55% said they supported nurses and midwives having their own regulator.
Unison members also supported a proportionate level of registration fee based on earnings, and said they believed a fixed-rate irrespective of earnings disproportionately impacted on graduates and part-time workers.
Meanwhile, Unite said the fee should not be increased above £86-a-year in January, and any future rises should be in line with inflation.
Unison head of nursing Gail Adams said: “Registrants do not want to take the hit for the financial mismanagement that has taken place at the NMC.
“A fee increase of almost 60% is disproportionate, and unfairly places responsibility for the financial woes of the organisation on the blameless registrants.”
She added: “Public protection is everyone’s business, and the government would do well to recognise their role in ensuring the public’s safety, step in and bail the NMC out.”
RCN chief executive and general secretary Peter Carter said: “Nurses are already in the midst of a two year pay freeze and face increased pension contributions and a rising cost of living. They shouldn’t have to pay almost 60% more just to maintain their livelihood.
“Our members have also been clear in their concerns about the NMC’s position more generally, and will need some assurance that their registration fees are going into a well-run, robust regulator and not disappearing into an abyss.”
Unite professional officer Dave Munday added: “Our members have overwhelmingly rejected the enormous fee hike – which is, basically, ‘a tax on nurses’ who have already suffered from two years of government-imposed pay freeze.
“To regain its credibility, the NMC needs to be more realistic in its financial demands – and we think increases in line with inflation, which is currently running at 2.6%, would be more realistic in future years.”