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RCN leaders 'too close to government'


The Royal College of Nursing’s leadership is too close to a government poised to make massive NHS cuts, according to a candidate for election to its governing council.

Mike Travis, a nurse at Alder Hey Children’s Foundation Trust, is standing to represent the north-west region in the RCN council elections, for which voting begins tomorrow (Wednesday).

Mr Travis compared the RCN with the British Medical Association whose ruling council last week voted to begin a public campaign for the Health and Social Care Bill to be withdrawn.

“We need to ask whether the RCN is a membership-led organisation or whether it is a staff-led organisation,” he said.

“You can have your big meetings in London but nothing will come out of them - the reforms have already started. There’s only so much talking you can do with the government.”

Mr Travis, who previously served on the council from 1999 to 2007, urged the RCN to “give the battle over to stewards” who were fighting cuts in local hospitals.

He said a number of other candidates in the poll shared his view that the RCN was too close to ministers.

Peter Carter, the RCN’s chief executive and general secretary, last month was reported as saying there were too many acute hospitals.

He has been a regular visitor to Downing Street in recent months as he attempted to influence NHS reforms - but he has spoken out recently against cuts.

Responding to Mr Travis’s comments, an RCN spokesperson said the college had “been fighting hard for members” since the bill was published last year, winning “major successes”, such as enshrining the role of nurses in the local commissioning of services.

They added: “The RCN has also repeatedly condemned the short term decisions taken by trusts over the past year to cut frontline jobs and services. Through our Frontline First campaign, we have led the way in tracking each and every post loss and service cut, highlighting to the government, stakeholders and media how these cuts will affect patient care.”

Voting in the RCN council poll closes on 14 September, with results declared five days later. There is one seat for each region and devolved nation, and for the RCN’s student members.


Readers' comments (5)

  • In any organisation the balance between decisions which are good for the membership, as opposed to those that are good for the organisation is a difficult and finely balanced process. Any governance has to monitor such issues closely, as well as the balance between working constructively with a government, and retaining it’s objective independence. Mr.Travis points are well made and whatever the conclusion of such a question, for the good of the college such points need to be made.

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  • Well said Mike Travis! The reforms are already well underway and the RCN are footering around on the sidelines, uttering the occasional bleat......but nothing else. I'm off to invest in a chocolate watch.

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  • Absolutely agree with Mike Travis on this one! Apart from a few soundbites where we were falsely led to believe that the NMC might be starting to take action, they have ultimately done nothing. Their 'major successes' are nothing of the sort. They have 'condemned' and 'tracked' the post cuts, yet what have they done about it? Nothing.

    There is a need for Nurse leaders to be in communication with the government, but their overall ties and loyalties MUST remain with the profession. The RCN has stepped too far over the line.

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  • Mr Travis states that other candidates in the RCN election process feel as he does. Well it is always easy to be a critic and it will be interesting to see the candidates manifestos when they are published for the members to decide. However, I note that other Trade Unions are also still in discussions, that all the Unions are working very closely together in confronting and opposing the proposed White Paper and the cuts. Peter Carter spoke out very strongly against posts being cut and services reconfigured in such a slash and burn process at a recent conference. Therefore, I fail to see how the RCN has crossed the line as it is fighting for nurses, for quality patient care and our pensions. So supporting that stance, being able to be around the table with colleagues in other unions and standing firmly together is a far better stance, than dividing the troops perhaps.

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  • maria nicholson | 27-Jul-2011 5:24 pm
    All these months hence, and the RCN are still doing NOTHING!! They are most definitely NOT fighting for nurses. They stand apart from all the other unions who are truly fighting for our pensions. Who could've predicted that? Oh yeah, everybody!!

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