Pressure mounts on the RCN to elect a General Secretary

Unlike many other unions the RCN combines the role of Chief Executive and General Secretary. 

Matt Bodell
20 May 2019
Voting hand detail

Members are set to debate electing a General Secretary this week.

The pressure is mounting on the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) to move towards an elected General Secretary amid claims it would improve the accountability and transparency of the union.


Unlike the majority of other unions, the RCN combines the role of Chief Executive and General Secretary. Separating these roles would set apart the day-to-day running of the union with its trade union activities.

The proposed move is due to be debated in Liverpool this week at the unions’ Annual General Meeting (AGM).

Anthony Johnson, an RCN member said; “I’ve never understood why the ‘Voice of Nursing’ can lag behind other unions when it comes to democracy. It’s embarrassing to think that the person who represents us in the public eye isn’t chosen by us”.

‘Accountability and transparency’.

Geoff Earl, the elected RCN Council Member for Scotland, said; “I stood and was elected to Council on a clear platform of accountability and transparency. I believe the role of General Secretary should be elected in the same way.


“If the fiasco of last year has taught us anything, it is that we need a General Secretary who is elected by and accountable to the membership of the RCN.

“This should never just be left to just half a dozen people around a table in Cavendish Square”.

Samantha Margerison, an RCN member, said; “Amid growing evidence of irregularities in the reporting of general secretary information to the trade union compliance officer and unanswered concerns around the most recent selection process it seems self-evident that our General Secretary must be elected by and accountable to us, the members.”

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