A NURSING agency boss who told her employees that the hated fee hike for nurses could be paid for by working "extra hours" defended herself from online backlash saying "don't shoot the messenger".
Catherine Arnold, the managing director of Dublin-based firm Nurse on Call (NOC) emailed the more than 4,000 nurses on her books drawing their attention to HSE policy on registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI).
The watchdog organisation, that runs Fitness to Practice enquiries, increased its retention fee - which must be paid by all members - from €100 to €150 this year.
The Irish Nurses and Midwifery Organisation (INMO) has opposed the increased fee, encouraging its members not to pay the increased sum.
NOC - where Ms Arnold and her husband Don shared a pay package including pension contributions of €1.28m in 2011 - was paid almost €40m for its services by the HSE in 2013.
Ms Arnold wrote to her staff yesterday asking them to send her company their 2015 registration details "immediately".
She pointed out that the NMBI will not accept part payment, as the union had advocated.
"I accept that the hike is very steep but it's a done deal now and it's out of our control. We do not make the rules but we are obliged to implement them," Ms Arnold continued.
"The only consolation is that we have endless work available and a few hours extra work will pay for the increase," she added.
The email was leaked to a Facebook page called 'Support for Nurses and Midwives Against Increased Retention Fees' where it was branded "unbelievably condescending" and dozens of posts hit out at Ms Arnold's remarks.
She responded to the criticism saying she had to send out the email after the HSE told NOC and other agencies they must ensure all their nurses are registered.
"I would say don't shoot the messenger. I'm not condescending," she told the Herald when asked about the criticism.
"They (the NMBI) put up the rate - I can't do anything about that. We have to protect the public. We can't have nurses on our books that aren't registered," she said.
Meanwhile, in response to Ms Arnold's email, the INMO contacted all of its agency nurse members repeating their advice to pay the old €100 fee.
General Secretary Liam Doran said that the HSE does not require nurses to confirm their registration until April 30 and added that the INMO's campaign has gained "tremendous support".