Respected nurse resigns from RCN triggering accusations of ‘silencing women’ and ‘male fragility’

Dr Joan Myers OBE announced she would be resigning from the RCN’s ruling council earlier this week.

Clare Bodell
8 July 2021
RCN Sign

Dr Myers was awarded an OBE in 2013 for services to children and nursing.

A respected nurse has resigned from her role within the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).

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Dr Joan Myers OBE announced she would be resigning from the RCN’s ruling council earlier this week.

In her resignation letter, published by the Nursing Times, Dr Myars urged the union “to learn from the numerous reviews/recommendations made over the years” and “start to implement wide sweeping changes to benefit the welfare of the wider group of nurses rather than a few vocal members.”

Dr Myers was awarded an OBE in 2013 for services to children and nursing.

Her resignation comes only days after Dame Donna Kinnair announced she would not be returning to the union following a period of sickness and follows a number of other women resigning from senior roles.

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Silencing of women.

Following Dr Myer’s resignation, RCN student representatives Hannah Featherstone and Katie Tomlinson published an open letter to the union calling out the “silencing of women” and “male fragility”.

It reads; The fallout following the resignation of Dr Joan Myers revealed an unpleasant undertone in the highest levels of RCN governance. We witnessed dismissive, defensive and passive aggressive silencing of women, with displays of white male fragility from some of our most senior leaders.

“Instead of listening and compassion, we saw defend and attack mentality playing out in a public forum. Alongside revelations that council members follow their own ideology regarding decision making rather than listening to members. As elected representatives this is an abandonment of duty.

“We are clear that we will not keep silent when people in positions of power abuse their privilege. We will not silently sit back and condone dismissiveness towards any black, Asian, or ethnic minority nurses speaking out about their experiences. We hear you and we see you. To keep silent is to condone, and we do not condone.”

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The letter continues and adds that “the poor role modelling behaviours from leaders in a position of power is unacceptable and goes against our regulatory professional code of conduct” before calling for change.

Independent investigation.

Responding to the statement released by RCN students, Dave Dawes, RCN Council chair, said: “The RCN has a long and proud history of inclusion and diversity but we are always willing to look how we can improve and strengthen this work.

“We are aware of assertions on social media and if any member wishes to raise concerns directly with us, this will be done through our member resolution process and be independently investigated. We are committed to being a learning organisation and the ongoing independent governance review will also provide plenty of opportunities for reflection and review.

“Council and other committees have been looking at how to strengthen our governance around equality and diversity over the last few months to ensure we achieve our strategic goal of being a world-class champion of equality, diversity and human rights across health and social care services.

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