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Francis response: Ministers back idea that RCN should split in two

The government has said it believes the Royal College of Nursing would be stronger if it split its role as a union from that of being a college.

The Francis report into care failings at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trusts called on the RCN to consider whether it should “formally divide” its royal college functions and its trade union functions between two bodies, rather than behind what it labelled internal “Chinese walls”.

The government said today it also believed the separation of the RCN’s professional and union roles “would enhance the authority of its work, so that those outside the profession would know when they were speaking in the interests solely of patients and when they were speaking solely in the interests of their members”.

The RCN has previously considered and rejected the Francis report recommendation, arguing that it is stronger as one organisation.

As an independent, non-statutory organisation, the college cannot be forced to change its structure by the government.

Nonetheless the acceptance of the recommendation brings the college more unwanted attention surrounding its own local failures to act over Mid Staffordshire, when it would rather focus on national issues like staffing levels and healthcare assistants.

The government’s full response to the Francis report into care failings at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust was published today.

In its response report – Hard Truths: the journey to putting patients first – the government has accepted 281 of the 290 recommendations made by the Francis report in February. 

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Readers' comments (11)

  • tinkerbell

    Anonymous | 19-Nov-2013 5:51 pm

    Same here.

    You lovely, gorgeous old fella Sir Robert Francis QC. Wonderful recommendation!

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  • RCN must go, it's not fit to be a union. I think we could do with a COHSE kind of set up: a union just for healthcare staff or even one particular to nurses, midwives and auxiliaries. We need something, anything would be better than the current gaggle of ward sisters and senior managers acting as staff-sides. How can a manager also be your union rep - could never work that out.

    Let's hope something good comes out of all of this mess.

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  • In any event Peter Carter surely must have to resign his position after visiting Mid-Staff's and stating:

    "I found the hospital to be well managed, it was clearly a very clean and efficient hospital, and the quality of nursing and other health-related care was of an exceptionally high standard. I had the opportunity to talk in private with patients and their relatives, all of whom expressed a high degree of satisfaction with the standard of care." Surely he can't continue.

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  • It feels strange to agree with the government, but, yes, the Royal Colleges need to stop their collusion with managers and be clear about their roles as union reps and professional bodies.

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  • I see that NT are deleting posts that mention how poor the RCN is as a union. You can delete as much as you like: RCN members past and present know that to be the truth.

    I just hope that members push for the RCN to split so that it can be an effective royal college and the union can be an effective union. Currently it is neither.

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  • It may be a better option to split, but then I envisage 2 subscriptions. For those of you who remember 'rates' being split into community charge (or it's forbearers) and water rates. Not a direct comparison, I agree, but shows how things work!

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  • Sounds a good idea.

    Apart from the 'two subscriptions' thing. Lets hope that doesn't happen!

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  • tinkerbell

    ONE Union for nurses and HCA's. ONE Voice not 5 unions without enough votes to take any action. If e.g., 16% voted across 5 different unions but had been one union then wouldn't we have had a different outcome. I don't know much about how unions work mind but wouldn't that have been the case instead of splitting votes across different unions?

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  • Last week I witnessed with my own eyes the local branch RCN AGM. The Committee posts were taken up by Hospital manager as secretary, and the other posts by ward managers. Morale being rock bottom I was the only ordinary staff nurse present so no wonder they slotted back in to take control just like Sir Robert Francis QC advises against. There was no opposition. However it leaves the local situation - Dire ! Staff think they are supported by RCN . No RCN=NHS and NHS=RCN. Get real everyone.

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  • what patients? wasn't really aware there were any really, or that they are of particular importance in the health services to anyone but nurses, doctors and other hc professionals and front line staff all of whom get the blame if they are not well served and of course the majority who are wonderful and genuinely care but are greatly limited in scope by the organisation and its rigid systems which appear more to do with finances, targets and keeping clinical staff in check.

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  • Sir Francis is not wrong in my view, which seems to be shared with many.

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