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Dame Donna Kinnair resigns from RCN

College general secretary had been on extended sick leave following accident
Dame Donna , who has resigned as RCN general secretary and chief executive

Search will begin in bid to find successor for one of the most powerful jobs in UK nursing, as college general secretary steps down

RCN chief executive and general secretary Dame Donna Kinnair has stepped down.

She had been on extended sick leave since April, when she was injured in a cycling accident but today the RCN announced Professor Kinnair would not be returning.

The college must now begin its search for a successor. Its Northern Ireland director Pat Cullen , who has been standing in since April, will continue to do so in the interim.

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Search will begin in bid to find successor for one of the most powerful jobs in UK nursing, as college general secretary steps down

Dame Donna Kinnair Picture: John Houlihan

RCN chief executive and general secretary Dame Donna Kinnair has stepped down.

She had been on extended sick leave since April, when she was injured in a cycling accident but today the RCN announced Professor Kinnair would not be returning.

The college must now begin its search for a successor. Its Northern Ireland director Pat Cullen, who has been standing in since April, will continue to do so in the interim.

Pat Cullen

Public face of nursing in the pandemic

Professor Kinnair’s tenure coincided with growing anger in the profession about NHS pay and nurse staffing levels, and she was at the helm during the RCN’s first strike in its history.

The COVID-19 pandemic brought her to the attention of the general public, when she became a prominent advocate for nursing during frequent appearances on television, most notably BBC1’s Question Time.

She took the crisis as an opportunity to participate in front-line care too, completing stints at the Nightingale field hospital in London.

In a statement she said: ‘I have been honoured to represent my profession in this role, particularly throughout the challenges of the pandemic and to have had an opportunity to work alongside intensive care unit colleagues at the Nightingale hospital.’

In a personal message of thanks to RCN members, she promised to continue supporting them, describing her role as head of the RCN as having been ‘equal parts challenging and rewarding’.

Professor Kinnair said she looked forward to fresh challenges once her health improved.

‘We thank Dame Donna for her service’

RCN council vice chair Carol Popplestone said: ‘We thank Dame Donna for all her service to the college and wish her well.’

Professor Kinnair joined the RCN team in 2015 and was made acting chief executive in 2018. She secured the permanent role the following year.


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