The Royal College of Nursing has been forced to put a major review of its structure on hold after an outcry on the final day of congress.
Anger at the way plans to reconfigure the RCN’s board and branch structure were set to be imposed led to calls for an emergency debate on Thursday and resulted in college chair Kath McCourt holding a lunchtime discussion attended by hundreds of members.
Members were unhappy at the top down nature of the review and perceived lack of consultation.
The discontent was sparked by a fringe event where a video was shown to explain the review and what it might mean.
Detailed information on the proposals are yet to be revealed but the review is understood to be looking at the structure of RCN boards and branches and how they interact with each other, as well as the college’s national structure across the four countries of the UK.
Former RCN president Dame June Clark told congress: “For four days we have railed against the government’s top down re-organisation and we are doing the same. What hypocrisy.”
Another delegate added: “You are trying to fix something that doesn’t need fixing. Leave it alone.”
But others praised the RCN for being willing to hold the discussion, with one delegate saying: “An organisation which allows itself to be challenged like this is a very healthy organisation.”
Professor McCourt told delegates she accepted “lessons do need to be learned” over how the review had been handled by the college.
She also revealed the review would be stopped forthwith and a consultation launched with every board and branch.
She gave a commitment that herself, chief executive and general secretary Peter Carter and vice chair of council Michael Brown would personally visit branches in the next eight weeks.
Professor McCourt told members no branch would be “disenfranchised” and added: “I want to hear from every branch.”
Mr Carter told delegates their comments had been helpful and admitted: “This could have been done better.
“To be crystal clear, this is your organisation we are going to speak with you and hear what you are going to say. We get the message, there is a lot of misunderstanding and I think this just needs clarifying,” he said.