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RCN: NMC fee rise is "unacceptable"

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has slammed the Nursing and Midwifery Council's (NMC) proposed fee rise as “unacceptable”. 

Responding to the NMC consultation on whether to raise annual registration fees to £120, the RCN said nurses are “still reeling” over the government decision not to offer a pay rise this year. 

The NMC claims that raising the registration fee from £100 to £120 would provide the nursing sector regulator with sufficient funds to operate. 

Dr Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the RCN said: “Our members spoke loud and clear during the last consultation in 2012 when they told the NMC that fee rises in the current financial climate were unfair and unjust.

“The NMC should be pursuing alternative funding options instead of expecting some of the lowest paid public sector workers to bear the brunt. The government should intervene with a grant so that the NMC does not have to pass on its financial pressures to nurses.  

“It is wrong for the NMC to ignore the views and feelings of the nursing workforce.  Our members have spoken and they should be listened to.”

Trade union Unison also called the proposed fee increase “unfair and disproportionate”. 

'Held to ransom'

A recent survey of Unison members showed that 99.36% opposed the fee rise. 

Gail Adams, Unison head of nursing said: “[Our members are] angry that the NMC appears to be unable to live within their current income and it's unacceptable to expect nurses and midwives to pay for this.

“Nurses have suffered an average 10% cut in the value of their pay since 2010 and asking them to pay more for their registration fees is unacceptable.  The majority of nurses will not be getting a pay rise this year and this is on top of a three-year pay freeze and squeeze.

“We want the NMC to maintain their current registration fees and if necessary reduce the number of fitness to practice hearings. Nurses and midwives simply cannot afford to be held to ransom by this increase."

However, a statement released by the NMC said reducing the number of fitness to practice hearings is “not what the public or the professions want”. 

The statement read: “We have been able to reduce our caseload and length of time it takes us to deal with complaints by increasing the number of hearings we hold. 

“Any reduction in the number of hearings we hold will lead to cases taking longer to conclude.” 

All responses to the NMC consultation will be considered. An NMC council meeting on 1 October 2014 will make the final decision on whether to increase the registration fee.