Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has ordered the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) to carry out an external, independent audit of the financial reasons behind its fee rise proposals.
The move to force the regulator to justify its proposed fee hike from £76 to £120 has been welcomed by health unions, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) and UNISON.
“We are pleased that the Secretary of State agrees with us that it is difficult to justify a fee increase for registrants, and has intervened in this way,” said the unions in a joint statement.
“The NMC is presenting our members with a fee rise of nearly 60%. This is not a situation which the nursing and midwifery professions can tolerate.”
They urged the NMC to carry out the proposed audit “swiftly” and ensure it takes its recommendations taken on board.
A Department of Health spokesperson confirmed Lansley’s request.
"At a time of pay restraint it is only right that the Nursing and Midwifery Council explore all possible options to avoid an increase,” they said.
“They should be able to justify to their registrants the need for a rise, which is why we have asked them to carry out an independent assessment of their proposals."
As part of Lansley’s order, the NMC will also have to make a commitment to review its previous financial planning and strategy.