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RCN 'acutely aware' of lessons from Francis report

The Royal College of Nursing has acknowledged it has “lessons to learn” from the way it handled events surrounding the care failings at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust.

The college was criticised in the Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust public inquiry report, published earlier today.

The report said nursing staff at the trust “did not receive effective support or representation” from the RCN, and that there was an “inherent conflict between the professional representative and trade union functions of the RCN which may diminish the authority of its voice on professional issues”.

In its initial response to the report today, the college said: “The RCN is acutely aware that it has real lessons to learn from how it supported members locally at Mid Staffs.

“Although we have already put in place numerous measures, we will look at the report in depth to see what other steps we can take to improve our effectiveness.”

Responding more generally to the report, RCN chief executive and general secretary Peter Carter said he welcomed the “powerful and monumental report”, which put “patients at the heart of NHS care”.

“Appalling care cannot be tolerated and everything should be done to ensure that it does not happen again,” he said.

He noted that it delivered key recommendations “which we support and have been calling for, including the registration and regulation of health care assistants”.

“The RCN has consistently called for the regulation of health care assistants for the benefit of patients in all care settings including older people’s care. We also welcome a greater call for whistleblowing from staff across the NHS,” he added.

Readers' comments (15)

  • Susan Markham

    Hah! The RCN “twinset and pearls” brigade finally called out for what it really is!

    An “inherent conflict between the professional and trade union functions of the RCN which may diminish the authority of its voice on professional issues” is a polite way of saying the RCN merely likes to kiss the gluteus maximus of management and government.

    Back in the day (when I was a Regional CoSHE Union rep) it used to really annoy the heck out of me that the RCN had more seats on the Whitley Council than the unions did... despite the fact they represented fewer Registered Nurses. I remember the days when they wouldn't allow SENs to join the RCN because (although SENs were regulated by the same General Nursing Council that RNs were) SENs were not “Registered” Nurses. Hell, I am so old that I remember the days when they didn't allow male Nurses to join because “men cannot be Nurses!”

    Yup, it was that same kind of mentality that led Queen Victoria to agree to government legislation against male homosexuality but not the female variant because – she said - “Ladies do not do that sort of thing!”

    The RCN have always resisted being called to account for its supposed 'union' label. I once had an RCN rep haughtily tell me “Oh dear me no, we are not a union, we are are a professional body. Unions are for the working class – not nurses!” WTF?

    The RCN have stubbornly refused to join the Trades Union Council and therefore I would sincerely urge any nurses who are currently training NOT to join the RCN because they will not receive adequate representation should they ever have the occasion to need it.

    I also hope that – in the light of the findings of the Francis Report - the Nursing Times will begin to increasingly distance itself from the RCN and the arcane culture it represents. Alas, for far too long, reading the NT magazine was synonymous with reading an RCN journal. I note, thankfully, that since the NT has gone “online” this trend seems to have begun to change.

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  • Susan, as an RCN rep myself I can ensure you that I represent my members very well. And whats more I'm an AP, I know your not keen on us either ;)

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  • How many nursing unions are there?
    How many reps were there at Mid Staffs hospital?
    Probably not enough. Unions or not, care was not given to patients, caused harm and death. It still sounds like a lot of nurse bashing. Did the RCN causes nurses to neglect their patients? What about if you are in another union, was there enough support - feels like there was from the sounds of all the blogs on this topic.

    Nurses don't have to be in unions, its a free choice, like the flu jab. If nurses don't like the conditions, then leave.

    More preferable, stick around, help make positive changes, be a good role model, train up youngsters well, so by the time we retire there might be enough good nurses around to look after us.

    I wonder how many more targets we have to achieve as a result of this report, and its those on the frontline will have to deliver it.

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  • Susan Markham

    Anonymous | 6-Feb-2013 10:36 pm

    The fact that you sign in as "Anonymous" shows just how much weight we should give to your frivolous "trolling" comment!"

    'nuff said!

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  • Susan Markham | 7-Feb-2013 7:05 am

    please show some respect for other commentators and cut out your own bullying comments.

    If you care to look below the comment boxes one of the two options is "Anonymously" which people choose for their own reasons which should be respected.

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  • I think a major problem with the RCN had been their reluctance to take strike action as "they did not want patients to suffer". Yet they were quite happy to stand by and watch patients suffer and die through staff shortages over many years. If the RCN was prepared to say "enough is enough" and called a strike, staffing levels would have been improved in months and these deaths prevented. Saying "you do not want patients to suffer" and lack of action, actually means that in fact patients will end up suffering and dying.

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  • My editorial in the last issue of the British Journal of Nursing asks has the RCN Lost its Way? The findings of the Francis report go some way to answer this question. Every nurse who speaks to me says that the RCN needs a re think, not one person from the RCN has made any response to the editorial and as we have seen with Mid Staffs silence equals acquiescence.

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  • Nursing Standard

    on the Francis Report

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  • I am sorry to say I feel anonymous comments are part of the problem, if staff feel that they are unable to put their name to comments will things ever change?

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  • Alyx Peters | 7-Feb-2013 12:12 pm

    the problem seems to lie with those who oppose the practice.

    Unless people's names (their real ones) are recognised by others personally known to them, everybody on here is anonymous, the rest is a question of choosing one of the two options offered below.

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  • It would probably be of great interest to many NT readers to know what support nurses at Mid Staffs received from Unison. Perhaps someone would like to put this information on record in this 'comments' section - thanks.

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  • I took serious issues to a woman at the RCN, issues where there were clear breach of professional code of practice, A woman called Adele Mackenzie, apparently senior at the RCN, told me to accept a financial settlement and to take the money and go home where I am from. When I declined such an offer, insisting I wanted the professional issues raised investigated, she insisted I took the money and give to my family. The rep representing me used to be an administrator at the RCN, then became a rep after some training. During various conversations with her it was clear she had not bothered to educated herself about basic nursing code of conduct. This is an insult to nursing and to nurses.

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  • The RCN? Great idea in principle.

    I remember speaking to an RCN rep in a disciplinary whom I later saw on lunchtime TV described as 'personal nursing advisor to Tony Blair'. I told her that the likes of her kept bad nurses in nursing and that the good ones became sick of working next to their members and left. The person she was representing was struck off at the UKCC, I was a witness.

    Before sitting down I pointed out two directors from the Trust and stated to everyone in the room that they were guilty of covering up vast amounts of abuse at the hospital and that it was all far worse than anything you will hear about today, and that in my opinion she was a scapegoat.

    The UKCC's reply? Sit down or we will throw you out.

    Pishing in the same pot.

    The first RCN rep I ever met had 30 stark naked patients in the bathroom at the same time, a conveyor belt of human degredation.

    Another RCN rep picked up a patient by his hair and threw him out bare foot into the snow in his pyjamas. He also failed to administer medication to anyone for days at a time then over dosed them, assaulted them etc.

    I informed the head of the northern region branch that I would probably see him in court after I joined the RCN for 6 months. It came to an abrupt end when they represented their 'longer serving' members and refused to let me take someone into a hearing where I was a witness against another RCN member.

    (This could go on for ever).

    And as I have said before, I have met many good people in nursing including ONE RCN rep and ONE Unison rep.

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  • Poor care was raised with the RCN in general 20 years ago (ish) nurses were told nothing could be done as it would upset RCN members.Yes, we accept- need also consider other unions. At the end of the day, they are unions whose role is to protect members when they are accused or involved in dispute. Need an independent union- also for student nurses, many who are afrid to speak out.

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  • see nursingandeducation platform
    google it

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