Editorial

RCN no confidence vote: I hope the situation doesn’t become a political football

Turmoil at the RCN should not distract us from what really matters – elevating nursing care

Turmoil at the RCN should not distract us from what really matters – elevating nursing care


RCN headquarters in London

The news from today’s extraordinary general meeting (EGM) comes as a body blow to the RCN. That such a large majority of the members (or, at least, of those who voted) came out so vehemently against the existing council can only result in a major shake-up of the existing governance arrangements.

Handling pay negotiations is, in any situation, a fraught experience. When it’s being played out in front of the media, with the health secretary threatening to remove a day of NHS staff’s annual leave as part on the deal, it’s a very tough game indeed.

Leaders must remain in touch with members

Whether as a union, a membership body, or both, it’s essential the RCN leaders remain in touch with their members’ views. Look what happens if you don’t.

Most RCN members have paid little attention to what’s happened today in Birmingham. I spent the day in Nottingham meeting a community nursing team and some second-year nursing students. None of them talked about the situation at the RCN. Nor did they discuss whether the RCN best served its members as a trade union or a professional body. 

‘It’s right that the leadership of a democratic, member-led organisation should be open to question’

What they were interested in was their patients. That the discharge notes from the hospital ward didn’t quite tally with the patient’s condition. How – in the students’ cases – they would cope with a night shift later this weekend.

Risk of undermining the profession

It’s right that the leadership of a democratic, member-led organisation should be open to question. Coping with criticism is never easy. But it’s right that there should be a review if – as appears to be the case – mistakes were made.

But — at a time when the NHS is facing immense, ongoing difficulties — I only hope the situation at the RCN won’t become a political football. One which will be used to undermine the profession and deflect from the main goal: to ensure the highest possible standards for patients cared for by the NHS.

 

This is a free article for registered users

This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this? You can register for free access.

Jobs