Unions are piling pressure on the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) to grab a multimillion-pound government offer to head off a massive increase in its registration fees.
The Department of Health offered a one-off £20 million grant to "improve the NMC's performance" today.
Nurses and midwives must register with the council before they can practice in Britain but the NMC was looking to plug a massive funding shortfall with a 58 per cent rise in fees.
It would mean the NMC's 660,000 members paying £120 per year instead of the current £76, despite a two-year wage freeze.
The NMC launched a consultation plugging its funding gap following an "unprecedented increase" in fitness to practice referrals.
But nurses and midwives strongly protested against the massive rise.
Health Minister Dan Poulter said the £20m would ensure the council could "properly perform their job of protecting patients."
The NMC's governing council will meet on October 25 to discuss the offer.
Royal College of Midwives chief executive Cathy Warwick said: "For some time, it has been known that the NMC faces a significant hole in its finances.
"The RCM has argued that the cost of filling this hole should not fall on our cash-strapped members and welcomes the government's offer."
Health union Unison head of nursing Gail Adams said: "The council must use this grant to keep registration fees down and help nurses who have had their pay frozen for two years and are now struggling just to make ends meet."
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