RCN Diversity Committee

This sub-committee of RCN Council is working to help the RCN achieve its goal to be a world-class champion of diversity, equality and human rights in the health and social care sector by mainstreaming good diversity practice across the College. The group's key priorities are to:

Download the full Diversity Committee terms of reference (PDF 20KB)

The members of the committee are:

Chris Piercy (Chair)

Positions held on Council:

Previous RCN appointments:

Chris began his nursing career as a cadet nurse in Hartlepool in 1972, and has been a member of the RCN since 1974.   He has been an active member for many years, holding branch officer roles in a number of branches across the North East such as Treasurer and Secretary, and has also previously been a Steward and Health and Safety Representative.  Chris has been a member of the Northern Board, and was once the Chair of the Student Nurse Section in Hartlepool.

Chris has strong generalist nursing expertise, and excels putting this to use developing new roles and services which are nurse led. He is currently employed to oversee the integration of community services from the Newcastle Primary Care Trust with the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Anne Wells (Vice Chair)

Anne is a full time convenor for East and North Herts NHS Trust. Her areas of nursing expertise are Diabetes and Palliative Care.

As the staff side lead she is working closely with management to ensure that nurses and nursing figure highly on the Trust Agenda, during the reconfiguration in health services in Hertfordshire.

Michelle Cowen

Michelle’s clinical interests are critical care and pain management but she also teaches mentorship and research modules. Michelle is the Faculty Lead for Inclusivity (0.4 WTE) which involves operational and strategic components, including writing.

Michelle’s particular area of interest is around students and staff with disabilities, in particular Dyslexia and Dyspraxia.

In 2010 Michelle wrote the RCN toolkit and guide for managers on Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and Dyscalculia.

Vivienne Ferris

Vivienne sustained a serious spinal injury whilst on duty as a Bank Nurse in 1993 and even with emergency and subsequent surgery; she was unable to return to clinical practice.

Despite her injuries, Vivienne undertook many vocational courses including a Diploma in Counselling.  She worked in a voluntary capacity as a Nurse/Counsellor for a leading cancer charity in Belfast for eight and a half years and then became heavily involved with the RCN's Work Ill and Injured Nurses Group (WING - now amalgamated with the Disabled Nurses Network, known as Peer Support Network). 

Living with complex medical problems and mainly hidden disabilities, Vivienne has a deep passion to help break down barriers that disabled people face and challenge services that are not complying to current laws and legislation.

While her main interest is around illness, injury and disability , Vivienne has a keen interest in all of the protected characteristics under the Equality Act and a very deep passion that minority groups receive fair and lawful treatment in all respects. 

Vivienne continues to support many nurses who are ill, injured, or have acquired disabilities and believes the empathy she has for these members allows her to carry out a much needed service.

Gill Francis

Tamsin Kilgour

Until recently, Tamsin had worked for several years as a general nurse, across a range of acute hospital settings.  Although some incidents stand out, she cannot remember a time when she wasn’t interested in equality and diversity issues; in getting to know the ‘person behind the label’ (whether a protected characteristic, diagnosis, or something else).

An RCN Steward throughout her working life as a nurse, and a Diversity Champion since the role’s inception, empirically she noticed issues regularly seeming to be dealt with through a more formal process where there was a perceived ‘difference’ involved.

She now brings the insight born of personal experience, recognising that, despite her previous best intentions and efforts, she had never really understood just how deep and far-reaching the impact of discrimination or harassment can be.
Tamsin has a particular interest in the needs of people with ‘unseen disabilities’; and of those whose long-term health condition meets the Equality Act definition but who do not identify with the term “disabled”.

Currently based in Scotland, Tamsin aims to ensure the Committee maintains a 4-country perspective, and considers the impact that different health/social care structures and legal frameworks can have on people’s equality and diversity experiences.

Ofrah Muflahi

Ofrah has a strong work ethos and knows that the delivery of dignity and respect to patients is key to ensuring the future of the nursing profession.

With much evidence of inequality in the NHS to both patients and staff, Ofrah believes that the committee can make a difference and she wants to be part of the mechanism to deliver that difference.

In order for Ofrah to deliver objectives, she feels it is critical that she does all she can to always have a strategic view of the bigger picture. Ofrah believes that being part of the committee is a natural area for personal development, networking and debating with challenging but likeminded professionals.

Rachael Ridley

Rachael’s interest in E&D issues arose a long time before the introduction of the Diversity Committee. Rachael wants to alleviate the discrimination and prejudice that many groups in our society suffer.

She has a particular interest in Trans issues and feels she is in a unique position to try and influence policy and alleviate peoples suffering, which she has experienced at times during her personal journey.

Sylvia Simmons

Positions held on Council:

Sylvia began her nursing career in 1964 as a cadet nurse, and following this trained as a State Enrolled Nurse.  Sylvia worked as an enrolled nurse until completing the conversion course to become a general registered nurse in 1993.

She now works as a Staff Side Lead for Solent NHS Trust.  Her main interest in nursing is primary care and urgent care, and Sylvia spent 11 years of her career working as a senior nurse in a walk in centre.
Sylvia has been an RCN member since 1994, and also became an RCN Steward this same year.  She is also a Health and Safety Representative for the Solent NHS Trust.

Rosemary Strange

One of Rosemary’s main reasons for becoming a member of the Diversity Committee was to draw attention to the plight of older people in care and highlight the fact that ageism is still a major issue.

As part of the ongoing work of the Committee, Rosemary will push the agenda for dignity, individualised care and the promotion of care for older people.

Jane Wray

Having worked in the higher education sector for over 15 years on different projects promoting diversity and inclusion in nursing, employment and the voluntary and community health care sectors, Jane wanted to be involved in the Diversity Committee to share her knowledge and expertise and inform the RCN's future direction on equality and diversity.  

Becoming involved in this committee will provide Jane with an opportunity to actively contribute to an area of practice that is important to her and work in a collaborative way to deliver fair and equitable services to all RCN members and the people they support.


View the register of interests for the Diversity Committee members.

If you have any queries please contact governance.support@rcn.org.uk