Trade unionist Pat Cullen appointed as RCN chief for at least 18 months

Ms Cullen led RCN members in Northern Ireland in taking industrial action for the first time in the College’s history.

James McKay
19 July 2021

RCN Council announces Pat Cullen will stay in the role until late 2022.

Trade unionist Pat Cullen has today been confirmed as the Royal College of Nursing’s (RCN) interim General Secretary & Chief Executive.


This follows Dame Donna Kinnair’s announcement earlier this month that she would be stepping down from the £197,000 per year role after a period of ill health.

Carol Popplestone, interim Chair of RCN Council, confirmed that Ms Cullen will undertake the role for the next 18 months until late 2022.

The news comes during a turbulent time for the union after several prominent female figures have resigned from positions.

A privilege.

Ms Cullen has worked at the RCN since 2016 and was previously in post as Director of RCN Northern Ireland, where she led RCN members in taking industrial action for the first time in the College’s history.


She has been acting General Secretary and Chief Executive since April 2020 and the College says will bring strong leadership alongside the fight for fair pay and a public enquiry over the pandemic.

Ms Cullen said: “It is a privilege to continue in this role during such a critical time for nursing.

“I am passionate about representing RCN members and will do everything in my power to make sure the voices of nursing staff are heard loudly and clearly.”

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