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RCN Congress 2019: day 2 as it happened

RCN Congress 2019: day 2 as it happened


Hustings are finished. Day two is complete. And so is our liveblog for the day. Join us again tomorrow for day 3.


Main hall debates are finished for the day. The last 30 minutes will see Agenda Committee hustings take place, with four places on the committee to fill.


The result from the emergency resolution proposed at 15.50 is in – 360 voted in favour, 150 against, 63 abstained and four spoiled their paper.

So that resolution will be added to the agenda at some point on Wednesday or Thursday.


An incredible 15 minutes at Congress. Kicked off by the student point of order (see 15.45 entry).

Then we get the result of the motion at 15.05 – it wasn’t passed. Votes of 338 against, 205 in favour, 38 abstained and five spoiled papers.

Then a vote on an emergency resolution to be added to the agenda:

‘That this meeting of RCN Congress calls for an immediate and independent review of Governance and decision making in order to support the future endeavours of Council, Trade Union Committee and Professional Nursing Committee’

A vote is held, but it’s too close to call for the chair. So we have our second voting card ballot of Congress. Result to come later


A student comes forward to raise a point of order. Here is the result:




A delegate proposes that the homelessness matter for discussion currently taking place is changed to a resolution with the following wording:

‘That this meeting of Congress calls on the RCN to hold the Government to account for their inaction over the health crisis of homelessness’

It’s put to a vote, and is passed. So it is now a resolution.

But then a series of delegates come forward to offer various contests to this, ranging from ‘it wasn’t seconded’ (it wasn’t, at least not officially) to ‘by voting on this, it shows that we don’t understand homelessness’.

Congress eventually, after much discussion, holds a vote on the resolution itself. And it’s passed.


The voting cards have been taken to be counted, so we’ll bring you the result as soon as we have it. 

In the meantime, the main hall moves on to a discussion on homelessness.


Everyone gets ready to vote on the current resolution – that the chief executive of the RCN should be elected – but before they do, chair BJ Waltho throws a curveball. Instead of holding up the book with either ‘for’ or ‘against’, as has been the way for voting so far, Ms Waltho informs them that voting cards will be used. 

These cards will then be counted individually, like a ballot, as opposed to the usual method of Ms Waltho scanning the voting member seats and eyeballing how many green ‘for’ are being held up versus red ‘against’.

This is an important vote that could result in a change to the RCN’s constitution further down the line.


Dougie Lockhart comes down to caution against the current resolution being discussed – that the role of RCN chief executive and general secretary should be elected by members and not appointed by the RCN Council.

‘He tells me he’s been playing football’, Congress chair BJ Waltho tells the venue.

‘I have’, Mr Lockhart responds.

‘You’ve left the ball up your tshirt’, comes the absolutely savage putdown from the chair.



Two votes on emergency resolutions to kick off the afternoon session. These votes are simply to add the item to the agenda, not in favour or against.

First one – that the RCN will support the UK Government’s public health work in reducing violence.

Second one – that Congress will raise the issue of mandatory vaccination in schools.

Both were added to the agenda after ‘for’ votes considerably outnumbered everyone else.


We’re also at a session with The Open University, discussing pre-registration programmes.

It follows the ‘Breaking Barriers to Nursing’ report released last week, in which The OU recommended that higher education institutions should remove ‘unnecessary’ entry requirements for nursing students.

The panel are asked whether lowering entry requirements would erode the image of the profession. Fiona Dobson, a staff tutor on The OU nursing programme, responded: ‘Our starting point has never been to lower our entry requirements. Our starting point has always been open to people, places and ideas.’

The OU’s own requirements for its BSc in Adult Nursing mirror that of the NMC – with GCSEs in Maths and English at a Grade C or above.


Lunchtime at Congress, so the main debates have stopped until 14.15. But we’re heading off to a talk with the chief nursing officer for Wales Professor Jean White. 


No resolution, but a very pertinent matter of discussion relating to the media and its portrayal of nurses. Marie-Therese Massey, chair of the RCN GPN forum, raises the issue of the recent BBC Panorama documentary into general practice and the lack of practice nurses appearing in that programme (spoiler: there were none).

She says that, when they challenged the BBC over this, they responded by saying that no practice nurse wanted to be filmed.

Ms Massey finishes by saying that nurses need to be more confident and vocal when the opportunities present themselves.


A resolution on clinical supervision – that Congress asks the RCN Council to challenge employers who impose clinical supervision on nurses by other professions – has not been passed. We make that the first one of Congress that has had a vote against.


A lovely moment at Congress as a point of order calls for a standing ovation for nurse Kirsty Boden, who was killed during the London Bridge terror attack in 2017.




That Q&A session with the RCN Council has overrun, but Congress chair BJ Waltho is now in situ, which means Congress is about to get serious.

She starts by telling everyone that Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable will be in the building at lunchtime. ‘We didn’t invite him’, she adds, before explaining that he’s not there in an official capacity, but just scoping the building out for an event that the Lib Dems are holding next year.


Congress delegate Jeremy Benton asks about 24E from the 2018 Council report – the summer of protest on the NHS pay deal. Have to be honest, we’re suprised it’s taken this long.

The detail in the report is, as Mr Benton points out, pretty perfunctory and gives very little in the way of reflection and lessons learned. Council are asked exactly what has been learned from last year.

RCN Wales director Helen Whyley gives a response that isn’t deemed satisfactory by Mr Benton – one very much that repeats the information that’s already out there. ‘This is meant to be Council’s report to Congress, is this not the arena to discuss these issues’, he contests.

Chair Sue Warner ends the back and forth by asking him to ‘leave it with us, we’ll get back to you’.


The session is now giving a chance to delegates to come to the front and ask questions of Council relating to motions that were passed at Congress 2018.

The first question relates to to 28E from 2018 – pay parity in Northern Ireland. The proposer of that resolution last year – a resolution that was passed by Congress – is unhappy at the lack of progress and lack of contact he has had from Council.

Fiona Devlin, chair of the RCN Northern Ireland board and member of their trade union committee, comes forward to say that they cannot take it any further without a Government in the country. Minimal progress has been made without a meeting with the Northern Ireland Assembly.


OK, now Council are reporting their work to Congress. Chair Sue Warner is on stage. She spoke to Nursing in Practice a couple of months ago on a range of issues. You can read that interview here.


We say ‘Council’s report to Congress’, as that’s how it’s badged on the agenda. But what seems to be happening is that a variety of associated RCN bodies are reporting to Congress one after the other. First was the RCN Foundation – the charity arm of the College – featuring their new chair Professor Jane Cummings, the former CNO for England. Now the RCNi – the media and learning group of the RCN – are up on stage.


Day 2 of Congress is here. Fringe sessions were running from 8am, including a lively discussion on whether the RCN can effectively operate as a trade union and professional body.

Debates won’t start until 09.45, but we do have the RCN Council’s report to Congress starting right now.

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All the latest from RCN Congress 2019, as it happens