The Nursing and Midwifery Council said registration fees will increase
Nurses and midwives will have to pay an extra £24 every year so they can work, it has been announced.
The annual registration fee paid to the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) should increase from £76 a year to £100 a year, the NMC council said.
The council also decided to accept a one-off Government grant of £20 million.
The NMC had originally planned to increase the registration fee by 58% to £120 a year, to cope with a soaring number of fitness to practise hearings. Ministers offered the regulator the one-off grant to ease the unpopular increase. But on Thurday the NMC announced that, despite accepting the grant, nurses and midwives could still accept a hike in fees.
The organisation said there is a shortfall between the amount of money generated by fees and the amount it costs to run the organisation.
Fitness to practise hearings cost £43 million and the general cost of running the NMC is £30 million - a total of £73 million - but the amount of money generated by fees, the organisation's only income, is £52 million.
The Unison union said it was "appalled" by the move, branding the increase, which is still subject to Privy Council approval, "unfair and disproportionate".
Unison's head of nursing, Gail Adams, said: "It beggars belief that the NMC are pushing ahead with a massive 32% increase on annual fees when they have just received £20 million from the Government. What message does this send to the nurses, midwives and patients whose interests they are there to protect?
"The NMC is the largest regulator in the world and, with their predictable income, should not be in the financial mess that they are in. Registrants did not cause this problem, and enforcing a fee increase that will impact on their already stretched incomes is unfair, disproportionate and untimely.
"The NMC could, and should have postponed this decision and used the time to rebuild the trust and confidence of registrants. There was nothing to stop the NMC from freezing registration fees and reviewing the situation next year; they could then use the grant to start addressing the backlog of fitness to practise cases."