Nurses and midwives protest at 50pc hike in registration fee
Nurses staged lunchtime protests yesterday against a dramatic increase in their registration fees.
They insisted they cannot accept an increase that raised the annual fee from €100 to €150 for nurses to remain registered to practise.
The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI) was unjustified in trying to impose the 50pc increase, the protesters said.
Local protests around the country were timed to take place ahead of a meeting of the board scheduled for today.
Union members said they were encouraged that the board will consider a motion today to "amend" the fee.
Protests were held at the Mater in Dublin, Our Lady of Lourdes in Drogheda and in Cork, Sligo and other locations.
"Nurses have had enough. Fees had already been increased from €80 to €100. We have deep concerns about the board's own expenditure," said Siptu national nursing officer Kevin Figgis.
"There are 66,000 nurses on the register and €100 in fees was giving the board an income of €6.6m. A €150 fee would give them a €10m income."
Mr Figgis said nurses will continue to refuse to pay the new fee and will only agree to negotiate with the board on the basis of the increase being rescinded first.
Liam Doran, general secretary of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), said other health care professions such as physiotherapists, occupational therapists and social workers pay a maximum of €100 registration fee and nurses will not be paying any more than them.
"We will not pay any increase," he said.
More than half of all nurses have refused to meet the board's deadline of paying the increased fee by January 1, said Mr Doran.