As chair of the Royal College of Nursing’s governing council, I’m calling on as many members as possible – whatever their views – to vote in the college’s forthcoming extraordinary general meeting (EGM) next Friday.
The meeting is taking place in Birmingham, but you don’t have to attend in person to cast a vote, you can appoint someone else to vote on your behalf there.
As your elected representatives, the RCN council I’ve chaired since January have acted quickly to restore members’ lost faith.
At the end of July, when many in England received the new pay deal, it became clear that members not at the top of their pay bands would have to wait until their annual increment date for the full 3% of the 2018/19 amount. The RCN had said all members would receive a 3% rise straightaway, but this was incorrect.
Janet Davies, as chief executive and general secretary, apologised immediately and council asked for an independent review on how the RCN’s processes fell below both expectations and members’ understanding. Shortly after this, the council also accepted the call from over a thousand members for an EGM.
In the time since then, Janet Davies has left the RCN by mutual agreement and I appointed an acting chief executive, Dame Donna Kinnair, to work closely with council members and ensure member services were not affected.
The first external review report, by Electoral Reform Services (ERS), confirms that, in key places, the RCN’s understanding and communication of the pay deal was not what members expected. A further deeper analysis will follow shortly. When it’s ready, it will also be published in full to demonstrate transparency, learn lessons and act on them – members must be assured these are being addressed
“Whatever the outcome of the EGM, you will see changes”
You will ask me: what will council and the college do next? Well, whatever the outcome of the EGM, you will see changes.
As a council, we have publicly committed the college to taking forward recommendations from the ERS review. I know that, for some, your frustrations are not limited to the pay deal – I am fully focused on dealing with the issues that have been raised. From this experience comes serious learning for the RCN and I am determined to see members listened to and involved in every aspect of its work.
As nurses, we are at our strongest when we all work together. If we are divided and arguing among ourselves we will not win. This is a time we can ill-afford to dilute the nursing voice by looking inwards. The RCN leadership must be the strongest it can be and council can provide that.
Before voting in the EGM on whether council has your confidence, you can read more information on the EGM, the petitioners’ statement and also the Independent Review Report on our website. You can also find full details on the website of how to attend the EGM in person, or register for a proxy vote.
With your support, we will make sure the college moves forward in the right direction.
Maria Trewern is chair, RCN council