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RCN congress debates cancelled: college scraps key parts of 2021 programme

Members’ concerns about inability to participate online are said to be behind decision
Nurse prepares to view RCN congress 2021 online

Members’ concerns about inability to participate in debates – now that they will be online rather than in-person – are said to be behind decision

Debates at this month’s annual RCN congress have been cancelled, with the focus shifting to education and professional development.

The move follows the decision to jettison the planned in-person conference in favour on an online event as a result of reports of sexual harassment in the organisation.

Members’ concern about inability to take part in online debates

The college’s governing body said it had taken the unprecedented step of

Members’ concerns about inability to participate in debates – now that they will be online rather than in-person – are said to be behind decision

Nurse prepares to view RCN congress 2021 online
Picture: iStock

Debates at this month’s annual RCN congress have been cancelled, with the focus shifting to education and professional development.

The move follows the decision to jettison the planned in-person conference in favour on an online event as a result of reports of sexual harassment in the organisation.

Members’ concern about inability to take part in online debates

The college’s governing body said it had taken the unprecedented step of removing debates out of the congress programme because members raised concerns about ability to participate online.

Debates on key issues affecting the profession are usually a prominent feature of the gathering. Nurses had been due to discuss topics including NHS pay, 12-hour shifts and the impact of long COVID.

The focus of the congress, from 18 to 20 September, will now be education, with sessions covering diverse topics such pursuing a clinical academic career, and pain assessment for people with a learning disability.

‘We’re disappointed, but it’s the right decision’

RCN congress chair BJ Waltho said: ‘We have listened to members and their concerns. And while I’m very disappointed we’ll not be holding debates this year, this feels like the right decision.’

RCN council chair Carol Popplestone said: ‘RCN council absolutely values the role of congress in shaping the direction of the RCN, determining policies and influencing campaigns.

‘That’s why it’s crucial we get this right and we are responsive to what members tell us.’

The changes come in the wake of serious allegations of sexual harassment. Last week the college announced barrister Bruce Carr QC will lead an independent review of its culture, and it has set up a confidential 24-hour helpline for anyone affected.

Remaining congress programme

Fringe events, sponsored sessions and events for nursing students and support workers will still take place, alongside well-being activities such as yoga – all accessed via an online conference platform.

There will be speeches from external contributors such as Sir Michael Marmot, director of University College London’s Institute of Health Equity, leading nurse academic and equality campaigner Calvin Moorley and eminent psychiatrist Neil Greenburg.

The RCN has published the revised programme as well as details of how members can access the event.


Further information


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