RCN members and staff want more openness across the organisation and diversity in leadership roles, an independent report into the organisation’s governance published yesterday found.
The review by the Centre for Public Scrutiny – launched following a resolution at Congress last year – heard from 2,844 members and 262 RCN staff on accountability, member engagement and organisation culture.
It stated: ‘Overwhelmingly members and staff reported that they want to create a working environment which is more open to listening, collaboration, focused on member priorities and welcomes challenge.’
Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities, women and people with disabilities should also be more encouraged to take on key RCN governance roles as there was a ‘lack of diversity and participation of these groups at meetings’, it found.
In addition, some respondents felt there were ‘too many competing groups’ working across the RCN, creating a ‘barrier to efficient decision-making’. Members on committees also said they struggled to get their views heard for wider RCN consideration.
The report stated: ‘Both members and staff talked consistently about there being a lack of trust between different groups, whilst some felt there had been some improvements, others believed that the position had declined.’
It also found that members were apathetic about the RCN because of a ‘lack of transparency and open communication’, as well as issues around representation, and that many members were unclear how they can be supported and represented.
However, respondents were positive about the RCN’s important role in the lives of nursing staff, it found – singling out last year’s strike action in Northern Ireland as example of the organisation coming together in ‘unprecedented action’.
While the report acknowledged that there have been ‘positive shifts in culture’, it added that ‘significant action is needed to improve’ and that this ‘is not a quick task’.
The RCN is arranging opportunities for members to discuss the findings of the review through briefings and digital Q&A sessions, beginning in July.
Dee Sissions, chair of RCN Council, said: ‘This report will help us increase our accountability to you our members; help build trust between members and those who hold delegated authority in their name; and ensure our way of working befits the nursing profession and an organisation with a proud history.’