A couple of days ago, I sent an email to the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) asking some clarification of the reason for their nearly 40% increase in 2012 registration fees.
Specifically, I requested a copy of their 2010-11 financial statement and/or a ballpark financial breakdown of their projected expenditures for 2012.
After all they are now asking us to part with a collective fifty three million, one hundred and forty-nine thousand, six hundred dollars of our hard earned money.
I have posted a copy of the reply below for your examination. But before you read it, here are my comments:
- I did not receive a copy of the financial statement as requested, or any financial breakdown of the boards justification for this increase in fees. I cannot seem to locate any information around this online…perhaps some of you will have more luck.
- The NMBA states that its new ‘heart’ is public safety.
Developing best practice policy, standards, codes and guidelines to ensure this is achieved.
Agreed, there is plenty of information confirming this on their site….but how many of us nurses develop best practice policy, guidelines and standards in the course of our everyday work activities as nurses. In fact such work is expected of nurses in more senior roles.
Could we have a 40% pay rise?…...Oh.
- With amazing logical edification the NMBA defines another of its roles as registering nurses and midwives and setting national registration requirements and fees.
So at least we can be assured some of our money is being well used to ensure we pay them more money. Excellent.
- Another role, is to “Assesses internationally qualified nurses and midwives who wish to practise in Australia”.
Now, from conversations with my collegues, OS nurse’s and midwives are already paying an up-front fee to have their qualifications assessed prior to registration.
If it requires additional money to do this, I see no reason why nurses and midwives should be subsidising it. The current nursing shortage in Australia is due to past Government mismanagement and we should not be asked to pay to help fix this problem.
The letter then goes on to….no, I’ll let you be the judge.
But in conclusion I simply do not see these activities as costing $53 million each year.
Does anyone disagree with this? I would love you to shout me down.
In fact, I would be personally willing to develop and provide up-to-date standards, best practice guidelines (and even some position statements) for the nurses and midwives of Australia for only 1 million, one thousand, eight hundred and twenty six dollars a year.
That has got to be a substantial savings and lead to reduced fees for 2013!
No. Really….its the least I could do.
Here is the letter.
Since its inception (and first meeting in Melbourne in September 2009) the Nursing & Midwifery Board of Australia (the National Board) has worked tirelessly, and met at least monthly, to make sure members of the public are kept safe by ensuring that everyone has access to nurses and midwives who are qualified and competent, and meet the new national standards. Public safety is at the heart of the new National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (the National Scheme), and the National Board is committed to developing policy that is consistent with international best practice standards. One of the biggest achievements to date has been establishing national policy for the registration and endorsement of nurses and midwives in Australia. To achieve this, the National Board had to address a number of differences that existed between each previous state and territory board as well as the requirements of the new Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (the National Law), as in force in each state and territory. The result is that nurses and midwives now only need to register once, and then renew their registration yearly, to practise – even if they work across states and territories.
The National Law defines the respective roles of the National Board as:
• Registers nurses, midwives and students of nursing and midwifery
• Sets the national registration requirements and fees
• Develops professional standards, codes, guidelines and position statements to guide nursing and midwifery practice
• Manages notifications, investigations and panel hearings
• Assesses internationally qualified nurses and midwives who wish to practise in Australia
• Approves national accreditation standards and accredited programs of study leading to registration and endorsement
The National Board then works in partnership with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), in accordance with the National Law, to:
• Administer the National Scheme and provide operational and administrative support for the National Boards in their core role of protecting the public
• Manage all registration and notification matters on behalf of the National Board and nine other National Boards
• Manage the registration renewal process
In 2010, the first year of the National Scheme, the National Board set the registration fee based on the best available financial information.
Note: A new aspect to the National Scheme is that it is self-funding (there is no cross subsidisation between professions in the scheme) as the National Board is responsible for being financially independent. The National Board’s only source of funding is registrant fees meaning that registration fees from nurses and midwives must fund all the costs of regulating 330,000 nurses, midwives and students of nursing and midwifery in every Australian state and territory. The annual registration fee is set to ensure the Board continues to meet its obligations under the National Law, and to continue keeping the public safe. This ensures a robust regulatory framework.
The National Board did not significantly increase its fees (and suspended the late fee) during the first year of operation to minimise the impact of the National Scheme on transitioning registrants and to provide time to assess the new environment and build a three year strategic plan. Once the National Scheme was in place, it became clear that the Board had an obligation to review the fees so it could meet its responsibilities under the National Law. Because, in addition to the costs of setting and administering registration standards as well as professional, codes, standards and guidelines to facilitate the provision of high quality education of health practitioners, these fees also needed to contribute to the cost of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council (ANMAC). ANMAC is responsible for accrediting and monitoring more than 400 nursing and midwifery programs of study that lead to registration or endorsement: an essential component of the National Scheme. And, after careful review and analysis, the National Board has set the fee for registration for nurses and midwives at a level that enables it to provide a robust regulatory framework that protects the public.
Note: The 2012 registration renewal fee for midwives and nurses has been set at a flat fee of $160, and applies to all nurses and midwives (regardless of whether they hold an endorsement or more than one registration).
As you can see, the National Board has endeavoured to smooth the transition for nurses and midwives where possible, but has other obligations to the public and under the National Law to meet as well. Unfortunately, neither AHPRA nor the National Board have any involvement or sway over pay negotiations for nurses and midwives, but I can imagine that National Board members would sympathise with you, being nurses and midwives themselves.