On Friday the 28th September 2018 I, like many other members of the Royal College of Nursing will be attending the RCN EGM in Birmingham and supporting a motion of no-confidence in the leadership. Specifically, I will join many other voices from across the UK calling for the elected members of Council to stand down and for fresh elections to be called.
My support for a no-confidence vote in Council is not just about the English pay deal, a fiasco that has had a disastrous effect on many members pay packet. No, the whole pay debacle is for me symptomatic of something that has gone very wrong in the RCN. Make no mistake had Council not just accepted the presentation on pay that they were given, had Council questioned the information which they were being fed by staff, had Council actually listened to members concerns and not allowed them to be attacked as ‘deluded’ and ‘anti-women’, we would not be in the position we are in now.
For far too long the relationship between Council and the RCN staff has not been one of leadership and direction on behalf of the membership but one of deference and lack of candour. Who is driving policy and change at the RCN? Who do Council listen too? I firmly believe that the answer to these two questions is not the membership. We need a root and branch change in our elected representatives. There are Board, Forum and Committee elections later in the year, members need to ensure that those who stand, and those that are elected, are people that will listen to the voice of the membership and take what they have heard to their various Committees and act on them.
The starting point for this change though is Council. They have failed to show the leadership that is required for the RCN to be a truly membership-led organization. Can we afford to lose all of the experience of the current members? Of course, we can half of Council finish at the end of next year anyway. We have a membership of around 450,000 and I have total confidence that within that number there are enough experienced members and enough driven members to ensure that a new Council can be a different body.
As members, we deserve a Council that reflects the aspirations of it members. A Council that listens and learns when there is dissent from the membership. We need a Council that will provide leadership in challenging the prevailing culture in the RCN. We need an end to the culture of doing the Governments work for them; too often the organization seems to cow tail to the Government.
We need an RCN that will stand up for health care workers, nurses and nursing. The current Council has shown through their failings that they are not the people to do this.