RCN members voted for a comprehensive governance review at an extraordinary general meeting held on Friday.
The resolution passed with 78.9% of the 500 RCN members who attended the online meeting voting in favour – the simple majority required.
Members also voted to enable the two-year term of RCN president Professor Anne Marie Rafferty to be extended by up to six months because of ‘exceptional circumstances’. Some 88.6% of members voted in favour with a two-thirds majority required.
RCN council chair Dave Dawes apologised to all four candidates in the presidential election. The election will be rerun afresh after two candidates were controversially disqualified in August, while the remaining two voluntarily dropped out.
At the extraordinary general meeting (EGM), Mr Dawes said: ‘I don’t think the candidates were treated well by the RCN’s processes and I believe they suffered emotional upset and reputational damage as a result.
‘We are sorry for this and I am deeply sorry for the hurt that these failings caused. The failings in this election process should not be seen as any stain on any of the four candidates,’ he added.
More than 600 comments and questions were received from members about the RCN presidential elections. Questions discussed at the meeting covered the powers of the returning officer, previous governance reviews and previous revisions to RCN election policy.
At the EGM, RCN chief executive Dame Donna Kinnair said: ‘Meetings like this force us all to take stock, reflect on the issues facing our nursing profession and assess how effectively we are rising to the many challenges we face together, as this is our union and professional body.’
The RCN council will oversee the review of the governance of the RCN, but it will be carried out by an external organisation. Further information and timelines will be discussed at the next council meeting in the new year.
The meeting was called after a petition with the required 1,000 signatures was submitted to the RCN in September regarding the 2020 presidential election.