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Nursing and midwives cannot afford increased fees

3 min read

At a time when health workers have seen big reductions in living standards with pay freezes and below inflation increases, Dave Anderson MP says nurses and midwives are right to protest the decision to impose fee increases.

This debate reflects genuine concerns of nurses and midwives as to the effectiveness on the Nursing and Midwives Council. At a time when health workers have seen big reductions in living standards with pay freezes and below inflation increases now on going for more than five years they are right to feel aggrieved by the decision to impose what will be an almost 60% increase in fees in two years.

Nurses and midwives cannot work without being registered with the NMC. It is the largest regulator of its kind in the world with 670,000 professionals on its books. It has a guaranteed income of £71 million a year. It is illegal to practice without being registered and the core duty of the NMC is to set and promote standards in education and practice  and to maintain a register of all those who are deemed to be fit to practice. It is inherit in individual contracts at work that a nurse or midwife must pay their registration fees or risk disciplinary action and be lapsed from the register.

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Given all of that it is right and proper that health professionals should expect to be listened to if they have concerns about their regulatory body. Historically registration was for life and there was no plan to increase fees annually. However rose from £43 in 2004 to £76 in 2007. 

In 2011 the Council for Regulatory Healthcare Excellence published what was described as a damning report criticising poor communication,lack of leadership, inadequate governance structures and poor financial management. The NMC accepted the findings in full.

However that did not prevent them from proposing yet another increase in fees in 2012 up to £120 per person. Following huge opposition from those representing these dedicated public servants a grant of £20 million was offered to the NMC by the government in recognition of the poor financial management of the regulator. This led to the fee being capped at £100. 

Yet less than two years later the NMC came back for more. They proposed again to raise the fee to £120. In a survey conducted by Unison, the largest trade union in health, some 99% of respondents opposed the rise. Other bodies registered similar response. 

Despite this the fee increase was imposed from February 2015. It is against this background of increase and real concerns about the role and lack of effectiveness and accountability with the NMC that this debate takes place. To some extent the opposition to the increase in fees are not as significant as the worry about the performance of the NMC. Hopefully this debate will act as a spur for all concerned to rectify the issues and develop a regulatory body that is worthy of the great people that we turn to in time of greatest need

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