The NMC will reinvest up to an annual £6m in ‘essential programmes’ due to savings from changes to the fitness to practice (FtP) process .
The Department of Health (DH) has published its findings of a 2016 consultation on changes to the law affecting regulation.
The financial impact assessment indicated that the change could mean between a £46m and £73m saving for the council by 2027. The estimated £60m saving over ten years as a result of the change is £1m more than the NMC received in total fees in 2015.
The NMC told Nursing in Practice: “The changes should result in a more efficient way of working and reduce the amount spent on fitness to practise hearings. It is our intention that we would reinvest these savings into other essential programmes of work, which will enable us to become a more efficient and effective regulator.
“Once these changes are in place, we will be in a better position to give an indication of the impact on our budget.”
Four years ago, the annual registration fee was raised from £76 to £100 and then again to £120 in 2015, despite negative consultation feedback.
The same year, the Health Committee said: “We would urge the NMC to avoid further fee rises and to consider fee reductions for new entrants to the register.”
When the NMC announced its consultation on the last fee hike, it 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.”
In 2014, Jackie Smith, chief executive and registrar of the NMC, revealed that the NMC was lobbying for FtP legislative reform. “If we are able to reduce the number of FtP hearings, then we could begin looking at reducing the cost of registration fees,” she said at the time.
Last week, the NMC declined to tell Nursing in Practice whether registration fees will go down as a result of the extra cash it receives from the FtP changes.
Fitness to Practice changes
Under the Government’s proposal, new legislation will be introduced to enable the NMC to make changes to the administrative proceedings of their FtP activities. Case examiners would also be given the power to agree warnings and undertakings with registrants.
The decision, subject to parliamentary approval, will allow the NMC to make some FtP decisions faster and without taking as many cases to hearing level, thereby saving money.
In 2015, the NMC spent 80% of its budget on FtP, with every final hearing costing about £13,000.