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'The atmosphere reminded me of Congress: positive, energetic and determined'


Nursing Times blogger Stuart Young shares his experiences of his first time at the RCN annual general meeting.

Even by my manic standards, yesterday was a very busy day.

As you’ll be able to read from the news on this website, the RCN held its annual general meeting in central London, one of the most important events in the College’s calendar.

It was my first ever time at an ‘RCN AGM’ and it was technically the meeting which confirmed my appointment to RCN Council, as one of its Student Members. It was a hugely interesting meeting, packed to the rafters with members from all over the UK, not just the nation’s capital. The atmosphere reminded me of Congress, it was positive, energetic and determined – there were decisions to be made and members were keen to make them.

The day started with the departing President, Maura Buchanan, giving an impassioned speech about her time at the RCN, particularly her four years in office. We then heard from a range of other key speakers including the RCN Chief Executive & General Secretary, Dr Peter Carter, the Honorary Treasurer, Stacey Hunter and the Chair of Council, Sandra James.

Now, just to be clear, one of the main purposes of the AGM is to present the financial accounts to members and let them ask any questions they might have. On paper, this doesn’t exactly sound riveting, does it? But I was actually surprised at just how interesting it all was; Stacey managed to turn what could be a dry set of figures into a really compelling assessment of where the RCN stands financially.

Then, in the afternoon, we turned to the six special resolutions that members were being asked to vote on. I’m not going to go into specific details about each and every vote but members voted in favour of a number of proposals that bring our charter up to date. As I think Sandra said in her speech, the changes make the RCN ‘relevant for the nursing workforce of the future’ (which I guess includes me!).

However, there were two votes that didn’t achieve the necessary level of support in order to have them passed, the first related to the setting of subscription rates. The second was a vote to allow all members of the nursing family, including HCAs to become full members of the RCN.

I think it’s very important to know that, despite not reaching the level of support required (66.6% of members, or two thirds), the majority of members did actually vote in favour of the proposal (64.2% to be exact!). It would be wrong to think that most RCN members don’t want HCAs to have the full range of rights given to registered nurses, because they do. We might not have reached the necessary number this time, but I do know that nursing staff have a huge amount of respect for HCAs; the NHS couldn’t work without them.

As a shiny new member of Council, I can tell everyone that we remain committed to bring HCAs and Assistant Practitioners into the full nursing family. Personally, I feel really positive that the majority of nurses are of the same opinion and Council will now go away and discuss how we move it forward.

About the author

Stuart Young is a third year student nurse and RCN student member of council


Readers' comments (4)

  • Shame the RCN still hasn't got the hang of this democracy thing.
    This elitist Royal College sometimes claims to be a union, sometimes a charity - whatever it is it doesn't seem to have much fight in it. Though I suppose they'd lose their tax breaks as a charitably body if they organised a campaign.
    Any student who joins it must be a bit of an old fogey - thus his 'excitement' at the RCN financial report at a time when NHS services are being shredded.

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  • what are the reasons given for HCAs not being permitted full membership of the RCN?

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  • HCA's are a key part of the nursing family and are part of the great care that we all deliver.

    I hope the college move this forward so that HCA's can become full members and add their experience to the full of the RCN

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  • As a student member of the RCN myself, I can assure all that I am no fogey! As a student and an HCA I have gained a great deal from my membership. The RCN continues to support HCA members and has widened its membership criteria to Dental Nurses, Nursery Nurses and Assistant Practitioners. There are obviously those amongst the membership who support full rights for HCA's and other non registered nurses as can be identified from the 64.2% who voted in favour of the proposal.

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