NMC criticised by MPs for hike in registration fees
Regulator urged to work with employers to reduce the number of fitness to practise cases
The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) should be doing more to keep down nurses' re-registration fees, according to MPs taking part in a parliamentary debate.
The debate was triggered after more than 100,000 people signed an e-petition opposing a 20% hike in the annual registration fee from £100 to £120 in October 2014.
David Anderson, Labour MP for Blaydon in north east England, accused the regulator of ignoring the voice of the majority of nurses and midwives when it voted through the fee rise.
The NMC fees have risen by more than 60% from £76 to £120 over the past two years, yet nurses have seen their pay reduced in real terms by between 8% and 10%.
Mr Anderson pointed out that the regulator spends more than 75% of its £71 million annual income on fitness to practise (FtP) hearings, which involved less than 1% of registrants.
He called on the NMC to work to reduce the number of inappropriate referrals, adding that more than 40% of cases are thrown out at the assessment stage.
‘Inappropriate referrals block the system and add to costs, which is why it is important that the NMC assesses whether it is appropriate for employers to refer so many cases,’ he said.
Responding to MPs' concerns, business, innovation and skills minister George Freeman said the government was doing all it could to ensure the lowest paid workers were helped and urged nurses and midwives to claim tax relief on their registration fees.
Speaking afterwards, Unison head of nursing Gail Adams said: 'The NMC should be looking at making savings to reduce the fee, not increase it.’
MPs also expressed concerns that NMC fees could rise again following confirmation by the Department of Health that all nine UK healthcare regulators will have to foot the bill for the Professional Standards Authority (PSA), which oversees their work.
Currently the PSA is funded by the government.
Ms Adams said: ‘We would like to see an immediate halt to the levy. I do not see why nurses should have to pay for an organisation they have no benefit from.'