An online petition campaigning against the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s (NMC) proposed fee rise has attracted an “unprecedented” 80,000 signatures.
The e-petition’s final total is almost triple the amount of nurses and midwives that spoke out against the pension proposals (30,000).
Created by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), the online petition closed on 31 July 2012 and, according to Howard Catton, Head of Policy at the RCN, it has sent “the loudest possible message as to how important the fee rise [from £76 to £120] is to the nursing profession”.
“The response to our NMC petition was unprecedented,” he said.
“In comparing it to other issues we have asked members to express views on, the number is huge.”
Catton said there were a “number of factors” which explain the gulf between the number of signatures against the NMC fee change and the pension proposals.
“There was an understanding that the pensions issue, while nurses didn’t like or accept the proposals, they and the general public could see the cause and effect from the global economic crisis,” he said.
“In comparison the NMC fee rise has come as a result of various weaknesses and failings within the organisation itself.”
Earlier this month, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley ordered the NMC to carry out an external financial audit to justify its proposed fee hike.
Catton said the audit will serve to “reassure” nurses that any fee rises will be necessary and not the result of poor financial management.
He warned, however, that should a fee rise be justified by the NMC, there shouldn’t be an automatic assumption that nurses should pick up 100% of it.
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