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RCN should be more politically engaged

Congress votes in favour of resolution urging RCN council to review political engagement strategy

Nurses have overwhelmingly called on the RCN to get more politically active to better protect the future of the nursing profession.

Rebecca Patton
American Nurses Association president Rebecca Patton delivered an RCN congress keynote speech
about the association's successful lobbying in the US. Picture: John Houlihan

At the RCN congress this week a vote was called by the South Yorkshire branch for asking the ruling council to consider how the college engages with politicians.

It was in response to a congress keynote speech by former American Nurses Association president Rebecca Patton on 21 June, in which she outlined how lobbying by her organisation helped achieve the United States Affordable Care Act.

There had also been several mentions of surprise that the RCN had chosen not to take a stance on this week's EU referendum.

Non-party political

During an emergency debate at congress in Glasgow on 22 June, former RCN president Maura Buchanan insisted the college had always been non-party political rather than apolitical and cited achievements like the historic Nurse Staffing Levels (Wales) Bill as being directly creditable to the RCN Wales branch.

She added: ‘That powerful voice on behalf of frontline nurses makes a difference’.

RCN national forensic nursing forum chair Zeba Arif declared herself 'a thorn in my MP’s side’ and urged nurses to follow her example.

Forcing change

The proposer of the resolution Paul Smith said: ‘Nurses having to use food banks to survive, is political.

‘Saying ‘no’ to cuts in public health funding, is political.

‘I am not here to criticise council or the staff for not being effective or engaging; this is not about them, it’s about us.

‘This is about how we decide to force the changes of the next 5 years and giving a voice to the 435,000 nurses who are members.’

The issue was decided with a card vote of the 530 voting members – 511 were for, 4 were against and there were 8 abstentions and 7 invalid votes.

Further Information

RCN congress debate on RCN involvment in political decisions

United States Affordable Care Act

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