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RCN accused of trying to “manipulate” impending vote of no confidence

A letter has led to accusations that the college is attempting to “manipulate” or “subvert” the impending vote of no confidence.



Voting hand detail

Royal College of Nursing members have expressed further anger over a letter calling for support in the unions’ leadership.

Royal College of Nursing (RCN) members have today expressed further anger at the union following an email, penned by a senior RCN official and sent to a select number of members, calls on them to “come out in support of the RCN’s leadership”.

The letter has led to accusations that the college is attempting to “manipulate” or “subvert” the impending vote of no confidence.


The Letter.

The letter reads; “The College has admitted, and it has been confirmed by an independent external review, that it made some mistakes in its processes around the 2018 Pay Deal and its communications.

As soon as these errors were discovered, the RCN Council quickly took all proper steps to investigate and rectify the situation: by issuing an apology, commissioning an independent external review, and by Janet Davies agreeing to leave her post as Chief Executive & General Secretary.

We need to have an informed discussion and response, which we hope to take place at the upcoming EGM. We want your support to change the college for the better – and we have taken, and are taking steps to achieve this.

Some divisions within the membership want to effect more radical change without this measured process. And have petitioned a vote of no confidence in the current Council.

This is a potentially dangerous time for the College with this small group of members putting at risk what has always been a proudly non-party-political organisation, acting on behalf of, and representing members whatever their opinions or background.

If the Council does not deliver the required change that it has signalled, they can and will be replaced by Council Members who can deliver that change at the regular leadership elections that exist for this very purpose.

I am asking that you come out in support of the RCN’s leadership, which in my view has taken all the correct actions.”

Extraordinary General Meeting.

A vote of confidence vote in the Royal College of Nursing leadership is set to be held during an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) on 28 September, at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre.

The EGM was triggered following a petition by 1000 members following accusations the union “mislead” it’s members over the NHS pay deal.

Members who are unable to attend can vote via proxy.

Fresh leadership is needed.

Grant Byrne, a student nurse, told the NursingTimes; “Any attempt by the leadership of the RCN to manipulate the EGM vote must be fought.

“[The] irony of this being that a big factor in the EGM was the leadership telling people how to vote the last time,” he said. Adding; “[It] highlights why fresh leadership is needed – lessons clearly haven’t been learned.”

The Royal College of Nursing confirmed the letter had been ‘publicly sent to the relevant members’.

Maria Trewern, RCN Chair of Council, said: “The debate about the direction of the College needs to be full and frank, and nobody should fear that. Council members are elected by the members in their constituencies to represent them, and it is absolutely right that they should hear from us regarding what we firmly believe to be in their best interests. We will be putting our case forward over the next two weeks and showing the clear and decisive action the College has taken and is taking.”


Safe staffing and equality have been an issue since the start

Parliament passed the Nurses Registration Act in 1919.



State registered nurse

A new exhibition charts the history of nursing from the Nurses Registration Act to modern-day.

In the centenary year of nurse registration, a new exhibition charts the history of the journey from the Nurses Registration Act in 1919 through to the modern-day.

Called ‘Wake up Slackers! The great nursing registration controversy’ the exhibition looks at the heated arguments around the official registration of nurses through the first registration of men, overseas nurses and one of the first nurses to be struck off.


The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) was just three years old when registration first happened and securing this had been part of its founding ambitions.

The exhibition shows how many of the discussions and controversies of the past, including safe staffing, continue today and influence many of the discussions around modern nursing.

The Nurses Registration Act.

The exhibit contains artefacts from the RCN archive including invites to member meetings to discuss the College’s proposals for state registration, House of Commons Parliamentary debates during the year the Nurses Registration Act was passed in 1919, as well as drafts of legislation.

Opening during Black History Month, the exhibition also showcases the story of Eva Lowe, one of the first known black nurses on the register. Research shows how, despite being well qualified she was rejected many times before finding employment. It shows how she received vague and unsatisfactory excuses for her rejection, some based on false concern for her welfare.

As well as letters and documents from the RCN’s own archive, the exhibition will also feature items loaned from other collections such as that of the regulator the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

Are nurses born or made?

Frances Reed, Events and Exhibitions Co-ordinator at the Royal College of Nursing said: “It is incredible today to think that 100 years ago there were arguments about whether or not nurses should be registered.

“Today it seems unthinkable for somebody with such responsibility for the welfare of patients not to be registered and yet there were strident clashes over it, despite other health professions securing regulation well before nursing.

“The story of the first black nurse on the register, Eva Lowe is important to highlight too. There is little known about black nurses whose names are on the very early 1920s registers.  It is essential we recognise that their contribution to health care existed well before Windrush.

“It’s also particularly striking to see how hard Eva Lowe had to fight to become the first black nurse on the register, and how 100 years later racial inequalities still exist in the health and care system.

The exhibition runs at RCN HQ in Cavendish Square, London 17 October – 20 March 2020

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One in six nursing associates drop out before qualifying, finds report

Despite this trainees showed “high levels of enthusiasm and commitment to the programme”.



Group of nurses in meeting

Only 65% of trainee nursing associates said they planned to work as a nursing associate once qualified.

An independent evaluation of the nursing associate role commissioned by Health Education England (HEE) has found that while there are “high levels of enthusiasm and commitment to the programme”, one in six nursing associates are dropping out before completing the course.

Attrition rates for trainee nursing associates fell slightly below that of student nurses, with 18% leaving before completing the course.


While ill health and personal issues were some of the most common reasons for leaving the programme, nearly a quarter (23%) withdrew because they failed to meet the academic requirements of the programme – with numeracy skills cited as a key issue.

One trainee said they found the “attitudes towards the role and the negative feedback about Nursing Associates” challenging.

Only 65% of trainees said they intend to continue working as a nursing associate once qualified as the programme is often seen as a stepping stone to becoming a registered nursing.

Highlighting challenges.

Mark Radford, Chief Nursing Officer, Health Education England said the report “highlights some challenges that we must address to ensure that students such as ensuring the quality and oversight of placements, attrition and numeracy support.”

“We also recognise that further work and research is required to ensure that the profession is supported and utilised in the workforce of health and social care as part of the MDT. I am pleased to be able to report that we are in the process of identifying candidates to be considered as NA ambassadors across England.

Commenting on the report, Andrea Sutcliffe, Chief Executive and Registrar for the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), said; “Having had the pleasure of meeting many nursing associates across the country, I am continually inspired by their enthusiasm and dedication for providing care and they should be very proud of the difference they make for the people they support.”

“I look forward to seeing how nursing associates continue to develop and be supported in their work, long into the future.”

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