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In Focus: NMC hikes annual fee to £100

Midwives magazine: Issue 6 :: 2012

NMC Building ALAMY
Credit: ALAMY
In May, the NMC revealed plans to increase its registration fees. Six months later, Midwives was there when the hike was voted through.

The NMC council HAS voted to increase its annual registration fee to £100.

The unanimous decision to hike the fee by 32% was made at a meeting of its council on 25 October. It also agreed to accept £20m from the government and it was decided that an annual review of the registration fee figure would be carried out.

Members of the council voiced their disappointment over the increase, but called it ‘the least bad option’.

Louise Silverton, RCM director for midwifery, was at the meeting as events unfolded.

‘The RCM has worked hard to get the best possible result for its members,’ she said.

‘We are pleased that we’ve achieved something by lobbying for the £20m grant from the government that the NMC has accepted. Many of the NMC council members took on board our concerns about the effects the fee increase will have, particularly on those who only work a few hours a week and on newly qualified midwives.

‘No one is happy to see an increase, but the NMC has committed to an annual review of the situation, which will allow us to see if the NMC’s assumptions about its finances are accurate.

‘The NMC’s suggestion that fees could go down if predictions aren’t as they expect is welcome.’

In the three-hour meeting, Louise asked the council if the impact of the increase on part-time and student members had been considered.

Members agreed that, at future meetings, the council would discuss whether a tiered fee system could be considered.

The £100 increase was one of four options on the table.

The first option was for the fees to stay at £76 and for the £20m from the government to be accepted.

But members agreed that this would mean the NMC would not be able to clear its backlog of cases and would eat further into its already low financial reserves.

Another option was for the fee to be increased to £120 a year and for the government grant to be rejected.

In the NMC consultation – to which there were 26,373 responses – 96% of respondents voted against this £120 hike.

Members of the council agreed that the increase was completely unacceptable.

The final rejected option was to raise the fee to £95 for one year, then consult on increasing it to £105 the following year.

However, this would mean that just three months after the first increase, a new consultation would have to begin on the following year’s increase.

Members agreed that this would take up too much time, too many resources and it was stressed that there was a financial cost involved in the consultation process.

At the end of the meeting, NMC chair Mark Addison spoke of the council’s regret over pushing the fee increase through.

‘It seems that we have a consensus. Not an enthusiastic consensus, but a consensus,’ he said. ‘Everybody has said that this is a difficult decision to take and it’s tough in the current economic context. It is a decision that we take reluctantly, but confronted with the information that we’ve got, I don’t think that we have any choice.’

The new fee is set to come into force on 1 February next year.