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RCN cancels debates at Congress



The RCN has cancelled the debates at this year’s annual conference, Congress, after the event was moved online.

RCN Council has said its Congress event next weekend will instead focus on a three-day education programme and deliver a range of interactive online sessions. This is after members raised concerns about the ability to effectively hold debates online.

The debates would have given members the opportunity to have their say on key topics. These were scheduled to include NHS pay, long Covid and guidance on how the RCN can be more politicalwhile remaining non-partisan.   

The education programme will cover topics such as understanding long Covid, pursuing a clinical academic career and pain assessment for people with a learning disability.

Chair of RCN Congress BJ Waltho said: ‘We have listened to members and their concerns. And while I’m very disappointed that we’ll not be holding debates at RCN Congress this year, this feels like the right decision.

‘We remain determined that Congress will return, in full, next June. We’ll work harder than ever to deliver the lively debates it has become renowned for when we meet next year,’ she added.

RCN council chair Carol Popplestone said: ‘RCN council absolutely values the role of Congress in shaping the direction of the RCN, determining policies and influencing campaigns.

‘That’s why it’s crucial we get this right and we are responsive to what members tell us.’

This comes after the RCN revealed last month that its annual conference would be moved online because of ‘serious allegations of sexual harassment’ and after seeking independent legal advice.

Last week, the College announced barrister Bruce Carr QC will lead an independent review into its culture, including the sexual harassment allegations.

The annual conference had been due to take place as a physical event in the city’s Exhibition Centre Liverpool from 18 to 20 September, with some sessions streamed online.

Last year, RCN Congress was scrapped to help members tackle the Covid-19 pandemic.