The government has suggested that a “clearer distinction” between the professional and trade union functions of the Royal College of Nursing would boost its authority.
The Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust Public Inquiry report, published last month, warned that there was an “inherent conflict” between the two roles of the RCN, which may “diminish the authority of its voice on professional issues”.
In its response to the Francis report last week, the government agreed, saying: “The Royal College of Nursing has an important role in developing and promoting the art, science and practice of nursing. The government believes a clearer distinction between its professional and trade union roles, both important, would enhance the authority of its work.”
Professor Kath McCourt, chair of RCN Council, confirmed that the college had no plans to alter its structure in light of the Francis report.
“When we discussed this issue with members recently, the view was that giving a voice to nurses as a trade union complements our work as a professional body, and that the two sides gain strength from each other,” she said.
“We want to ensure that all our structures support that work and that both aspects remain strong for our members. As a member-led organisation, council will continue to discuss this with our members,” she added.
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