Voting is your chance to shape nursing’s future

Have a say on your profession’s leaders, starting with the RCN EGM, says Caroline Shuldham

Have your say on the profession’s leaders, starting with the RCN EGM, says Caroline Shuldham

Picture: Alamy

I cannot remember a time when there was so much uncertainty and change in the national nursing leadership. Who will hold these senior roles in the profession a few months from now?

With chief nursing officer for England Jane Cummings due to step down from her post in November, NHS England has joined forces with NHS Improvement to advertise for a single chief nursing officer. This will be a joint appointment, with the successful candidate reporting to the chief executives of both organisations.

The advert says candidates will be ‘strategic thought leaders with extensive knowledge across the breadth of nursing and midwifery’. Though this is England’s chief nurse, it is an important leadership position for nurses in all four countries of the UK, as we all need to work together.

A challenging time

The regional teams of NHS England and NHS Improvement will also be integrated, led by regional directors working for both organisations – could one or more of these be a nurse?

At the RCN, chief executive and general secretary Janet Davies stepped down from her role at the end of August, following criticism over information given to members about the NHS pay deal in England.

While the post is being filled on an interim basis by Dame Donna Kinnair, a permanent appointment will need to be made, and I am curious about who will consider applying at such a challenging time in the college’s history.

Vote of no confidence

Following a members’ petition calling for a vote of no confidence in the college’s leadership, RCN council called an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) for 28 September to discuss the RCN’s handling of the pay deal in England.

Those who cannot attend the meeting can vote by proxy. To do so you must apply for a proxy vote to be cast in person by a member of your choice. This option closes at 11am on 26 September, so there is just enough time left to have your say. Nurses who attend the meeting can vote on the day.

The RCN has said it is committed to implementing the outcome of the vote, so if the motion is passed we could see more changes in the leadership of the RCN.

Influence the future 

The RCN is also embarking on a vote for other leadership positions, namely its president and deputy president. Voting opens on 11 October and the list of candidates, some of whom you may recognise, is on the RCN website.

This flux may seem far removed from the day-to-day work of most nurses, but nurse leaders in these national organisations have influence and their actions affect us all. It is therefore worth paying attention, using your vote and encouraging others to do so to support senior colleagues who apply for such positions.

Nursing benefits from good leaders, and voting gives us the opportunity to influence the future.

Caroline Shuldham is an independent healthcare consultant and chair of the RCNi editorial advisory board


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