Nursing and midwifery unions have voiced their concerns about the Nursing and Midwifery Council's plan to increase professional fees by more than 60%.

The NMC which regulates the UK's 670,000 nurses and midwives, has proposed increasing the annual fee from £76 to £120 from next year, a move which the Royal College of Nursing's general secretary said is "inappropriate" during the current NHS pay freeze.

Dr Peter Carter said: "Nurses across the UK are hugely concerned about the proposed hike in NMC fees at a time when many are struggling financially.

However, the government has created a counter-proposal which "will protect nurses and midwives from the full impact of a proposed registration fee rise" by offering the NMC a £20m grant to help cover the financial shortage that forms the reasoning for the fee increase.

Royal College of Midwives chief executive Cathy Warwick added: "We have argued that the cost of filling this hole should not fall on our cash-strapped members."

The Department of Health hope that with their grant this increase, which the NMC insist is key to cover "unprecedented number of nurses and midwives being investigated", can be limited to £24.

An NMC spokeswoman said they will consider the government's offer at their next council meeting on 25 October and Dr Carter has urged them to accept.

"The Department of Health's offer is to be welcomed and is something we have been calling for," he added. "It is clear that the NMC has been facing a number of significant challenges for some time and we would urge the NMC Council to accept the offer as soon as possible."

Posted 15/10/2012 by richard.hook@pavpub.com