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RCN refuses to split as Francis recommended

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has refused to split into two bodies, as recommended by the Francis Report. 

The report on Mid Staffordshire Hospitals Foundation Trust said that the RCN was “ineffective” in preventing the fundamental failings of care. 

In the report Robert Francis QC, who headed the inquiry said: "At Stafford, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) was ineffective both as a professional representative organisation and as a trade union. Little was done to uphold professional standards among nursing staff or to address concerns and problems being faced by its members.

"A prime reason for this was the lack of effective representation from elected officers on site. Further, the support available from RCN officials at a regional and national level was limited."

But Dr Peter Carter, RCN chief executive, said the Royal College's two functions “complement each other” rather than conflict. 

He said: “We have discussed this with our membership at our most recent Congress in April, where 99% of members… overwhelmingly expressed a desire to maintain the current structure.” 

The RCN currently represents the interests of nurses by lobbying the government, while aiming to protect nurses professional interests. 

Dr Carter said: “We also readily acknowledge that the RCN could have done more at a local level to support members at Mid Staffs.” 

The RCN chief executive claimed that since the events at Mid Staffordshire hospitals, support for local nurses has been improved so that they can “easily tell us when things are going wrong”.