The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has ruled in favour of raising its registration fees from £76 to £100 at its council meeting yesterday (25 October).
The new fee structure will come into effect in February 2013 and will last two years.
Mark Addison CB, chair of the NMC, said fees will be reviewed each year and any proposed increases will be subject to consultation.
Council members took the “difficult decision” to raise fees in a bid to invest in increasing capacity to deal with fitness to practise referrals.
A consultation saw the majority of its 26,000 respondents to the reject the original proposal to increase the fee to £120 to fund this work.
The council meeting also saw the regulator accept a £20m one-off grant from the government to support the costs of regulation.
Mark Addison CB, chair of the NMC, said the council had to strike a “very difficult” balance between the need to protect the public and the financial burden of regulation on hard-working nurses and midwives.
“The NMC’s costs have increased dramatically over recent years in spite of extensive efficiency and cost-saving activity,” said Addison.
“As complaints to the organisation and the complexity of the cases we deal with have increased, delivering effective and efficient public protection without sufficient resources has become increasingly difficult.
“The Council considered the response to the NMC’s consultation in detail, and we have listened carefully to the issues raised. We recognise the financial pressures that many nurses and midwives are facing at a time of widespread pay restraint, and the challenges of the wider context in which they are working.
“As a result of this decision, the NMC will now be able to deliver a significant increase to our capacity to handle fitness to practise cases. This means that we will be able to deal efficiently and effectively with new referrals, and we will work hard to reduce waiting times for hearings.”
Addison said he was “grateful” that the government’s “generous” grant has helped the NMC limit the increase to the registration fee “as far as we possibly can”.
Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter said he was “pleased” the NMC accepted his offer. "We are pleased the Nursing and Midwifery Council has accepted our offer of £20 million,” he said.
“This has helped to halve proposed fee increases for nurses and midwives. "We want to support the council and its new leadership in getting back on its feet financially and operationally. The NMC is an important body with an important role to play in protecting patients, and it must now focus on improving its performance."
Dr Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), said he is “staggered” nurses are being subject to a 30% hike in NMC fees “to pay for the failures of their regulator”.
“We still need to see the outcome of a full financial audit, and the profession needs to have confidence that the lessons are learnt from this fiasco and that there will be ongoing, high-level scrutiny of the organisation,” said Dr Carter.
“Without this, nurses and the government could end up throwing good money after bad.”
Unite professional officer, Jane Beach, described the fee rise as a “blow” to nurses’ static incomes.