The NMC has voted unanimously to increase its registration fee from £76 to £100 from January 2013 in addition to accepting a £20 million government grant to save the regulator from 'crisis'.
The decision was made in a bid to clear the ailing regulator's two-year backlog of disciplinary cases. It came days after health committee chairman Stephen Dorrell said a regulator in 'crisis' was worrying for the public, given controversy about standards in nursing.
Despite pleas from Unison's director of nursing Gail Adams to delay a decision, the council was given four options: keep fees at £75 and accept the grant; increase annual fees to £120 without the grant; increase fees to £100 and take the grant; or increase fees to £95 in January and again to £105 in January 2014 with the grant.
Its decision comes despite NMC and RCN consultations revealing overwhelming opposition among nurses to a fee rise.
NMC acting chief executive Jackie Smith said: 'We cannot deliver public protection with £76 fees or even a fee rise in line with inflation [working out at £86].'
But RCN general secretary Dr Peter Carter said: 'Nurses are being asked to pay for the failures of their regulator, with no assurance the fundamental problems will be solved.'
Obi Amadi, lead professional officer at Unite, added: 'This is too much. It should have been increased in line with inflation.'
NMC chairman Mark Addison said: 'We are not enthusiastic, but this is the best option. We have no interest in keeping the fee higher than it needs to be. This has been a difficult decision but we have no choice.'
The NMC has 4,500 cases to clear, 1,400 of which have yet to have an interim hearing.