NHS pay deal row: email reveals RCN council’s fears over ‘potentially dangerous time’ for college

RCN council appeals for members’ support ahead of extraordinary general meeting

RCN council appeals for members’ support ahead of extraordinary general meeting

RCN headquarters in London. Picture: Alamy

The RCN's governing council has made an impassioned plea for support at the forthcoming extraordinary general meeting (EGM) on 28 September.

It has asked members to vote against a motion of no-confidence in it.

This is a ‘potentially dangerous time’ for the RCN, an email to Scottish branches suggests.

The college has confirmed the email's contents came from its ruling council and was sent to local branches for dissemination to members.

The message, which contains an impassioned appeal to members, asks them to vote against a motion of no confidence in the college’s leadership at the extraordinary general meeting (EGM). 

'Small group is putting organisation at risk'

The emails says: ‘This is a potentially dangerous time for the college with [a] small group of members putting at risk what has always been a proudly non-party political organisation, acting on behalf of and representing members whatever their opinions or background.’

The words ‘small group’ appears to be a reference to the organisers of the petition that prompted the EGM after it emerged not all nurses received a 3% pay increase they had expected in July. This was contrary to information the RCN provided ahead of the vote on the NHS pay deal for England.

The email acknowledges the RCN made mistakes over its communication of the pay deal.

It continues: ‘As soon as these errors were discovered, RCN council quickly took all proper steps to investigate and rectify the situation: by issuing an apology, commissioning an independent external review, and by Janet Davies agreeing to leave her post as chief executive and general secretary.’

The email urges members seeking ‘more radical change' to wait for the outcome of the council's full response. It suggests that if the council fails to deliver 'the required change' its members can be replaced at regular elections.

The email ends: ‘I am asking that you come out in support of the RCN’s leadership, which in my view has taken all the correct actions.’

Complexity of deal led to confusion

An interim report by Electoral Reform Services on Friday said some of the confusion about the deal may have been a result of the complexity of what was being offered. The report identified shortcomings in the RCN’s communication strategy and inaccuracy in some of the information given to members.

One of the petition's organisers, Lothian branch member Geoff Earl, told Nursing Standard he was dismayed by the email.

He added: 'I am pleased my branch refused to send it because of its partisan nature but unfortunately we do know many members have received it.

'We need to know where the authorisation of this email came from and who allowed the RCN mailing list to be used. It just seems to go against all that the EGM is about: transparency, accountability and ultimately the democratic processes of the RCN.’

RCN council chair Maria Trewern said today: ‘The debate about the direction of the college needs to be full and frank, and nobody should fear that.

‘Council members are elected by the members in their constituencies to represent them, and it is absolutely right that they should hear from us regarding what we firmly believe to be in their best interests.’

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