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Nurses should express their opinions on strike action

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The question of whether nurses should go on strike has always been a matter of contention, bringing with it perceptions of a conflict with the fundamentals of caring for patients.

The RCN last week announced that it would be asking its members if they would like to see a change to Rule 12 of the college’s constitution, which states that nurses should not act ‘in any way which is detrimental to the well-being or interests of their patients or clients’.

The college is at pains to point out that, at this stage, it is only asking for opinions on a change to the rule and it would need to ballot members before it could be weakened or abolished.

The move honours a pledge made by the RCN Council at congress to review the rule. However, the time is perhaps ripe to have a new discussion on the rule.

Unions have just begun movements to trigger the reopener clause in the pay deal (p3). The clause, if honoured by the government, should allow the deal to be renegotiated to take into account the worsening economic climate.

Mention has already been made, however, of possible strike action should ministers not return to the negotiating table.

Whether or not a change to Rule 12 results from the present consultation, the RCN should be congratulated for broaching a difficult subject for the profession. Nurses must take the opportunity to have their say on the issue. Not to do so could see them lose out on better pay and conditions.

NMC announces its new action plan

Last week saw major changes at the NMC. The regulator has faced a difficult time of late after being found wanting by an investigation sparked by allegations first revealed in NT.

The regulator’s old guard, in the form of chief executive Sarah Thewlis, has now stepped down and the regulator has announced the appointment of a new president and an action plan with strict time targets to make it fit for purpose.

The NMC must now be given a chance to move forward and become the first-class regulator that the profession deserves.

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