Cash-strapped nurses facing 60% hike in registration fees they must pay in order to work
The nursing regulator wants to increase professional fees from £76 to £120Unions argue the increase is unfair while NHS workers are suffering pay freezesGovernment pledges £20m grant to help but some fee hike still expected
11:56 GMT, 15 October 2012
The Nursing and Midwifery Council, which regulates the UK's 670,000 nurses and midwives, has proposed increasing the annual registration fee from £76 to £120
Nurses are facing a 60 per cent hike in the professional fees they must pay in order to work.
The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), which regulates the UK's 670,000 nurses and midwives, has proposed increasing the annual fee from £76 to £120.
The regulator faces a significant hole in its finances, something it has blamed on the ‘unprecedented increase’ in the number of nurses and midwives whose conduct has had to be investigated over the past few years.
But unions have condemned the move, saying it is ‘inappropriate' to increase fees while NHS workers are in the midst of a pay freeze.
Dr Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing said: ‘Nurses across the UK are hugely concerned about the proposed hike in NMC fees at a time when many are struggling financially.
Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, added: ‘We have argued that the cost of filling this hole should not fall on our cash-strapped members.’
Today the Government pledged a one-off £20 million grant to prevent nurses and midwives being forced to fork out an extra £44 each just so they can work.
A spokeswoman said the money would ‘protect nurses and midwives from the full impact of a proposed registration fee rise of almost 60 per cent’.
However it’s thought there will still be some hike in registration fees even if this goes ahead.
That’s because the proposed fee rise would raise an additional £29m for the NMC. Even with £20m from the government, it is likely the regulator would still want some level of fee increase to balance the books.
Nursing Times understands the Department of Health hopes its intervention could see the fee rise lowed to around £100.
The Government has pledged a one-off £20 million grant to reduce the fee hike, but some increase is still expected, possibly to around £100
Health Minister Dan Poulter said the grant would be used to ‘improve the NMC's performance’ and help the body tackle the backlog of complaints against nurses.
He said: ‘Following a period when we have heard of so many terrible abuses in the care of older people and vulnerable patients, it is important that organisations like the NMC are in the right shape to properly perform their job of protecting patients.
‘I am also mindful that, in these times of pay restraint, it is not right that hard-working nurses and midwives are burdened with the full financial cost of improving the NMC's fitness to practise function.’
The NMC Council can now decide whether or not to accept the grant.
This will be determined at its next council meeting on 25 October, when a final decision on whether to go ahead with the fee rise is also expected to be taken.
An NMC spokeswoman said: ‘Patients must be able to have confidence in the quality of care they receive from nurses and midwives, and we share the Government's commitment to improve nursing and midwifery regulation.
‘We welcome the Government's offer of a grant to give us further options to contribute to the costs of regulating nurses and midwives.’