Up to 2,000 nurses and midwives took to the streets of Dublin yesterday to vent their anger at a 50% hike in registration fees.
The march, organised by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, the Psychiatric Nurses Association, and Siptu, made its way to the head offices of the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland in Blackrock where a letter objecting to the increase was handed to board president Paul Gallagher.
INMO spokesman Michael Dineen said nurses were angry on two fronts.
“We are objecting to the increase against a backdrop where all other health professionals have had their fee capped at €100 and against the use of nurses’ money to pay for the board’s legal fees. There is no clarity around the payment process or how the rates are set.”
The registration fee for nurses and midwives rose from €100 to €150 this year. Nurses’ fees go toward fitness to practise inquiries and Mr Dineen said some of the spending on legal professionals “seemed excessive”. He said members were also critical that the NMBI had hired a PR firm to speak on its behalf since the dispute arose, which nurses were also funding.
The INMO is encouraging nurses to cancel direct debits to the board until concerns are addressed.
A statement from the NMBI said the fee hike was deemed necessary to ensure it could “continue to perform its regulatory functions effectively”. It said the Department of Health had made clear in parliamentary question replies “that the board has to be a self-funding, independent body”.
It warned nurses that the annual retention fee was due on January 1 and the HSE had confirmed it could not hire nurses who did not have their retention certificate. However, the INMO said no action could be taken against nurses before March 30 because of certain processes that had to be gone through which essentially provided for a 56-day grace period.
Fianna Fáil health spokesman Billy Kelleher said: “There are over 60,000 nurses working across the health services and they should not be unfairly targeted or singled out for fee increases. Fianna Fáil will be raising this with the minister for health; the Nursing and Midwifery Board is accountable to the Oireachtas and I am not convinced of the justification for this level of increase to date.”
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