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RCN governance report calls for ‘significant change’

RCN governance report calls for ‘significant change’

The RCN has vowed to ‘improve ways of working together’, after an independent report on RCN governance found ‘significant change’ was needed.

As part of RCN Council’s review of the governance of the College, an independent report from KPMG was released on 26 May. However, Nursing in Practice has not seen the report in full because the RCN said it is only available to members.

According to the RCN, the report makes 25 recommendations across four broad themes: strategy, member leadership and Council, governance structures and supporting mechanisms.

It calls for ‘greater definition’ to be given to senior member and staff roles, and the ways in which they operate, as well as ‘clear articulation of member involvement in decision-making and the principles for co-production and co-creation between RCN members and staff’, the RCN said.

The RCN said it intends to set out a 2023-2028 strategy by this autumn, following a process of member engagement, and last month Council approved a programme of work to look at roles, responsibilities and accountabilities.

RCN general secretary and chief executive, Pat Cullen, said the KMPG report provides ‘an outside perspective to our governance and the challenges that faced the organisation,’ particularly in 2020 and 2021.

‘In my first year in this role, I have tackled those issues and there is clear progress against many of the recommendations already,’ she said. ‘My executive team will continue to work closely with Council to prioritise this work.

‘I am personally committed to ensuring we value and practise inclusivity in all that we do, improving our ways of working together – all to ensure the voice of nursing in the UK is undeniably strong.’

Ms Cullen said the report is ‘a key part of the review,’ which is made up of more than a dozen components, including reviewing the structure of the RCN Group, and reviewing organisational policies to strengthen accountability.

Chair of RCN Council, Carol Popplestone, said: ‘There’s a large programme of change underway in the College and it is being driven by the elected members on Council. We are working closely with the executive team, who are leading the planning and delivery of this vital work.

‘The broad thrust of this report helps to identify where more work is needed, but members can be assured that progress has already been made on many fronts.’

Separate work to improve the governance of RCN forums will be considered by Council this month.

The review is being conducted alongside a separate external review, led by Bruce Carr QC, into the culture and decision-making of the RCN.

The Carr review is due to be published in late summer and, once received, the RCN has committed to refreshing its Respect Charter, as called for by KPMG.

The RCN says its annual general meeting (AGM) on 5 June will include an update from the Chair of the Governance Support Committee, Council member Geoff Earl, on the KPMG report and wider review, as well as a progress update from Mr Carr.

Ms Popplestone said: ‘Members will be able to have their say on what they found most valuable about KPMG’s advice and we will set out the important work that has already commenced.’

Members voted in favour of a comprehensive review of the governance of the RCN at an extraordinary general meeting in November 2020, asking for the review to examine:

  • the RCN charter, rules, standing orders and all associated policies
  • role and structure of RCN Council and Council committees
  • the role of general secretary and the executive function
  • outstanding areas of work from previous governance reviews.

RCN members and staff have previously called for more openness across the organisation and diversity in leadership roles.

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