The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Council has been accused of pressuring nurse members after an email was sent to RCN branches encouraging them to vote in support of the current Council at the upcoming extraordinary general meeting (EGM).
The email, sent by a member of the Council and which Nursing in Practice has seen, said: ‘We need to have an informed discussion and response, which we hope to take place at the upcoming EGM. We want your support to change the college for the better – and we have taken, and are taking steps to achieve this.
‘Some divisions within the membership want to effect more radical change without this measured process. And have petitioned a vote of no confidence in the current Council. This is a potentially dangerous time for the College with this small group of members putting at risk what has always been a proudly non party-political organisation, acting on behalf of, and representing members whatever their opinions or background.
‘I am asking that you come out in support of the RCN’s leadership, which in my view has taken all the correct actions. To do so, you will need to vote disagree here, and give your vote to a proxy.’
The Council is facing a vote of no confidence at the EGM on 28 September following claims that it ‘misled’ members about the NHS pay deal, which saw chief executive Janet Davies resign from her role.
The meeting was called after a petition to vote out the council members gained over the 1,000 signatures needed to trigger the EGM.
In response, Council chair Maria Trewern told Nursing in Practice: ‘The debate about the direction of the College needs to be full and frank and nobody should fear that. Council members are elected by the members in their constituencies to represent them, and it is right that they should hear from us about our view on the best way forward.
‘We will be putting our case over the next two weeks and showing the clear and decisive action the College has taken and is taking.’
Danielle Tiplady, one of the nurses who started the petition for the vote of no confidence, said: ‘The email sent out to members is completely unfair. Those supporting the EGM resolution represent nurses from a wide range of backgrounds who are invested in the best interests of the nursing profession and the College.
‘This email goes against the spirit in which EGM planning meetings were held between petitioners and the RCN, which is incredibly disappointing. At a time when the transparency and democratic processes have been called into question, sending out an email of this nature will only enhance members’ concerns and it further highlights that we are not being listened too and ultimately failed.’
Members can appoint a proxy to vote on their behalf on the ERS website. Instructions from the RCN on how to do this can be read here.