A rise in the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) registration fee to £120 is necessary to protect the public and ensure the regulator’s reputation, it is claimed.
The NMC has announced its intention to consult on a “possible increase” in its registration fee to £120 as recent measures to cope with increasing caseloads have failed to “bridge the gap”.
Since 2007, the regulator’s has held its fee at £76.
The NMC claimed the “steep increase” is needed to handle the “soaring number” of fitness to practise (FtP) referrals and to cover the “increasing costs of regulation”.
Verified by KPMG, it is said there is “no capacity” for the NMC to deal with any future increases in referrals or to fund improvements in its infrastructure.
It was also revealed the body has “significantly dipped into its free reserves” to continue to fund activity.
“We recognise that it is a very difficult time to ask nurses and midwives to pay more for their regulation,” said Professor Judith Ellis MBE, Interim Chair of the NMC.
“It is clear that the rising costs of delivering fitness to practise have now outstripped the income that the £76 fee provides.
“While the final level of the fee will be determined by the outcome of the consultation, I must warn registrants that an annual fee in the order of £120 is the level that is needed to protect the public and to ensure the integrity and the reputation of the professional register.
“This level of fee will help to future proof public protection.”
Operational expenditure in the regulator’s FtP cases in 2012-2013 is expected to reach an “unprecedented” £42.9m and this, together with the costs of the other core functions, will push total expenditure to £73m.
The registration fee – the NMC’s principal source of income – when set at £76 delivers an annual income of £52m.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Chief Executive and General Secretary, Dr Peter Carter, blasted the NMC’s decision to raise its registration fee, calling it “deeply unfair” for nurses to pick up the tap of the regulator’s financial pressures.
He called upon the government to contribute towards the costs of regulation.
"This is a staggering proposal at a time when nurses are under huge financial pressure,” he said,
“Indeed, it is deeply unfair that the NMC would propose a near 60% hike in fees when nurses are in the middle of a two year pay freeze and facing increased pensions contributions. We know that the NMC is facing financial challenges, but nurses should not be picking up the tab.
"We believe that this consultation raises a fundamental issue about funding of the NMC. While there are increasing costs of fitness to practise, the NMC is also due to make a significant financial contribution of £0.8m per annum to the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence, which oversees all health regulators. Given that the CHRE promotes partnership working between the professions, patients and the public, we would question whether it is now time for the Government, rather than financially stretched nurses, to contribute to the costs of regulation.
"The Royal College of Nursing will be seeking a meeting with the NMC as a matter of some urgency. RCN Council will then consider next steps.”
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