Unions have responded angrily to the Nursing and Midwifery Council's proposal to increase registration fees to £120.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) and UNISON have said the £20 above-inflation rise "beggars belief" and is a "blow to nurses still reeling from the government's decision to deny them a small pay uplift".
The unions will be requesting an urgent meeting about the potential fee rise with the minister responsible, Dan Poulter MP.
Dr Peter Carter, chief executive of the RCN said: “Many nursing staff will also rightly be sceptical that this consultation will end in anything other than approval for the unfair rise.
“It is important that nursing has an effective regulator, and this is in the best interests of nurses as well as patients. However, the NMC simply cannot expect to use hard working nurses as a quick-fix for its ongoing financial problems. When an organisation which has a guaranteed source of income demands a 60% increase in fees over two years this is a sign of some serious financial mismanagement and nurses should not be bearing the brunt of that.”
The NMC said they "fully appreciate" that the proposed fee hike could be coming at a "bad time for nurses and midwives".
An NMC statement said: "It is in the interests of nurses and midwives that their regulator has the appropriate resources needed to take swift and fair action against those who fall short of the high standards expected of the professions.
"The fee is our principle source of income and without sufficient funds we won’t be able to adequately protect the public."
Christine McAnea, UNISON head of health, said: "It beggars belief that the NMC should even consider asking nursing staff to pay such a massive increase in fees. The family budgets of many nurses and midwives are under severe financial pressure and one more bill to pay can all too easily tip them over the edge - especially as it comes on the back of last week’s pay announcement.
"Public protection is everyone’s business and the full financial burden shouldn't fall to registrants alone. The NMC should explore other avenues to cover the cost which is the main call on its finances, including more advice and guidance to registrants to act within their code of conduct with greater confidence."
Following a consultation, the final decision about raising registration fees will be revealed on 1 October 2014