RCN announces new president and deputy president

Anne Marie Rafferty and Yvonne Coghill will take up their posts on 1 January

Anne Marie Rafferty and Yvonne Coghill will take up their posts on 1 January

New RCN president Anne Marie Rafferty 

RCN members have elected a new president who has pledged to prioritise safe staffing and college governance.

Anne Marie Rafferty will take up her post on 1 January, as will Yvonne Coghill who has been elected deputy president.

Period of transition

Their election, by 6.9% of the college’s UK membership, comes after a tumultuous few months for the RCN, following its handling of the communication of the NHS pay deal, which led to the majority of its ruling council being forced to stand down.

Ms Rafferty, professor of nursing policy at the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery and Palliative Care at King’s College London, has also promised to focus on the way the college communicates with its members.

Facing the challenges

Professor Rafferty, who was named one of the 70 most influential nurses in 70 years of the NHS earlier this year, said she was thrilled to be elected.

‘There are clearly many challenges ahead for nursing, so we need to pull together as members to put the profession at the forefront and face those challenges,’ she said.

‘Looking at governance and communication in the RCN will be my priority internally.

‘Tackling safe nurse staffing levels will be my focus externally. Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock has suggested he will consider introducing legislation [on safe staffing], so I’m keen to connect with him and establish strong links.’

Professor Rafferty was elected with a 26% majority.

Yvonne Coghill. 
Picture: Barney Newman

Strong support

Her deputy Ms Coghill, who is director of the Workforce Race Equality Standard at NHS England, was elected with a 35% majority.

Ms Coghill has supported the RCN throughout her career as a frequent speaker at Black History Month events, and by presenting workshops at RCN congress.

She said: ‘It’s a huge honour to be elected and a very special feeling to know that you’ve been chosen by fellow nurses because they think you’re good enough to represent them.’

Ambitious minds 

RCN acting general secretary Dame Donna Kinnair said their elections were ‘testament to the lifetime contribution they have made to nursing and the clear ambition they’ve shown for our profession’.

Professor Rafferty and Ms Coghill succeed outgoing president Cecilia Akrisie Anim, who has served in the role since 2014, and deputy president Rod Thomson.

Voting for the elections of 12 members to RCN council begins next week.

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