Constitution for RCN branches

1. Introduction

1.1 The RCN branch is the local membership structure through which the RCN organises local representation of nurses and nursing, promoting excellence in practice, and shapes local health and social policies.  

1.2 The geographical boundaries of the branch will be determined by the relevant board. Any change in title or boundary of the branch will be made by the board and be notified to Council.     

1.3 The branch is accountable to the relevant board and shall submit an Annual Plan and Review of its activities to the relevant Board for approval.

2. Branch membership

2.1 All RCN members working in workplaces within the branch’s geographical boundary will be members of the branch.

2.2 Any RCN member who is not employed but whose home address falls within the geographical boundary will be a member of the branch.

2.3 All branch members will have full voting rights in respect of all branch elections.

3. Purposes of the branch

3.1 The purpose of the branch is to recruit and retain, support and develop members and activists, and to help deliver the RCN strategic plan. This is achieved through:

  • Enabling learning and development, leadership and support for professional and trade union activity
  • Providing communication and networking opportunities for RCN members locally
  • Providing a focus for local RCN visibility and local activity
  • Providing a local RCN structure and its associated accountability.

4. Representative and voting rights of the branch

4.1 The branch sends voting and non-voting representatives to the RCN Congress in accordance with the constitution of Congress.

4.2 The branch can submit items to the Congress Agenda Committee for consideration, and if the item is selected, will nominate a member of the branch to propose the item at Congress.

4.3  The branch can nominate members to stand for election as RCN President and Deputy President, Chair and Vice-Chair of Congress and the Council Members from their Country/Region, in accordance with the RCN Charter and Bye-Laws.

4.4 The branch can nominate members for election to their board in accordance with procedures agreed by RCN Council.

4.5 The branch can have a branch honorary president. They should not have a decision making role within or for the branch.  Branch members should elect them annually at the AGM. Any member of the branch can nominate a member of the branch as branch honorary president. To be valid, each nomination must be seconded by a branch member, and should be put to the vote at the AGM.

5. Branch organisation

5.1 The branch committee is responsible to the Board for the conduct of all branch matters, acting on behalf of branch members.

5.2 The branch committee will be made up of a minimum of three members and a maximum of six, including the roles of branch chair, secretary and treasurer.

5.3 The chair, secretary, treasurer and other committee members should be elected annually at the branch AGM.  Any member of the branch can nominate themselves at the AGM. To be valid, each nomination must be seconded by a branch member, and should be put to the vote at the AGM. No member can occupy more than one of these roles concurrently.

5.4 No member can serve for longer than 8 consecutive years on the branch committee. After 8 years on the committee, the member must have a gap of at least 2 years before being eligible for re-election to the committee.

5.5 The quorum of a branch committee meeting is three members of the committee.

5.6 The secretary is responsible for informing the relevant RCN office of the names of members elected or co-opted as members of the branch committee immediately after their election or co-option and the branch ratification or removal of any RCN representative.

5.7 The members of the branch committee shall be recognised as the leaders of the branch, who are competent to act on behalf of the RCN at local level.  They shall have a duty to act within the policies of the RCN and to be mindful of the image of the RCN in all their activities and decisions.

5.8 The committee can co-opt members to fill any casual vacancy on the committee until the next branch AGM.

5.9 The committee is accountable for the organisation of the branch to the board and to branch members at the branch AGM.

5.10 The committee is responsible, on behalf of the members, for:

5.10.1 Organising the branch and its activities in support of the RCN’s purpose in accordance with   its policies and procedures, the branch constitution, and any guidance/ protocols issued by the RCN

5.10.2 the financial stewardship of RCN branch funds

5.10.3 delivering a programme of events and meetings to meet the needs of members and representatives

5.10.4 recruiting members and activists

5.10.5 acting on behalf of the branch in the exercise of its representative and voting rights

5.10.6 identifying all the workplace units within the branch area and aiming to have a link representative in each workplace unit

5.10.7 fostering activity in all workplaces within the branch area.

5.10.8 ratifying the workplace elections and removal of RCN accredited representatives, in line with the RCN policy 

5.10.9 co-ordinating collective branch action on any matter affecting the interests of nurses and the nursing profession in line with RCN policy and the guide for RCN Members on Industrial Action

5.10.10 promoting professional awareness and development by organising local professional activities and ensuring there are appropriate  links in place with national forums

5.10.11 lobbying on behalf of nurses and nursing within RCN policy

5.10.12 regularly communicating with branch members and  link members in workplaces units

5.10.13 having concern for the well-being of members who are in adversity and/or ill-health

5.10.14 supporting equality and diversity at all branch activities

5.10.15 complying with and promoting the RCN Code of Conduct and other governance policies.

5.11 The committee should work in partnership with Country/Regional staff ensuring there is good communication and that local issues are reported to the regional/country office.

6. Branch meetings

6.1 The branch committee will arrange a programme of meetings and events to meet the needs of members and activists.  Such meetings should have a defined purpose and members should receive notification of these events.

6.2 The branch must hold at least one branch general meeting for all members, each calendar year, the Annual General Meeting (AGM).

6.3 The branch AGM will take place in September or October each year, and the date and venue should be notified to all branch members using RCN communication channels, at least three weeks in advance of the meeting.

6.4 The purpose of the AGM is to receive the Branch annual report and the financial statements up to the end of the previous financial year (31 March), to elect the Branch Committee, and to ratify the elected RCN representatives.

6.5 An Extraordinary General Meeting of the Branch will be convened if the Chair so determines, or on the written request of twenty (20) members of the Branch, provided notification of the date and venue goes to all branch members through RCN communication channels, at least three weeks in advance of the meeting.

6.6 The quorum for any general branch meeting, including the AGM, is ten (10) members, including three (3) committee members.

6.7 The branch committee may set up any other committees or arrange regular meetings of another other segment of their branch membership.

7. Workplace units within the branch

7.1 The committee and the staff shall together identify all workplaces within the branch’s geographical boundaries, within the NHS, educational establishments and the voluntary and independent sectors.  

7.2 RCN workplace units may be set up in any workplace, the purpose of which is to provide a visible RCN presence within the workplace, to be a point of contact to RCN members, to recruit new members, and to provide individual or collective representation in the workplace or place of study.  

7.3 The workplace units will work within the policies of the RCN and may formulate responses to the employer’s consultation and negotiation on professional and employment issues arising in the workplace or place of study.

7.4 The branch will delegate appropriate roles and powers to the workplace unit. The full powers and rights set out in this constitution remain with the branch and take precedent over the powers and rights delegated to the unit.

7.5 The RCN accredited representatives i.e. stewards, safety representatives and learning representatives, will be elected from and by the RCN members in the workplace unit, in a manner determined by the RCN protocol issued by Council and overseen by the branch committee. 

7.6  A link representative can be selected in each workplace unit by the RCN accredited representatives in that workplace, who will be accountable to, and in regular communication with, the branch committee, and will be responsible for coordinating the election of RCN stewards, safety representatives and learning representatives in that workplace and they will notify the branch of the election results for branch ratification.

8. Finances

8.1 One member of the branch will be elected to act as treasurer for the branch. They will be a member of the branch committee.

8.2 The treasurer is responsible, on behalf of the branch committee for the financial stewardship of branch funds, ensuring they are expended in pursuit of the RCN objects as embodied in the Charter and protecting them from fraud and abuse.

8.3 All branch funds must be kept in the branch’s designated sub-account of the RCN corporate bank. There must not be any other branch bank accounts. All transactions through the bank account must have two signatures from amongst the agreed signatories.

9. Amendments  to the constitution

9.1 Council has the power to vary this constitution, or make other provisions for the conduct of branches, in such manner as the Council, at its discretion, may from time to time determine.

9.2 Council will produce readily available guidance and protocols for branches on how to operate aspects of this constitution.


10.1 The branch may be dissolved, merged with another branch or its geographical boundaries altered by the board. Before making such a decision, the board will consult the branch members at a general meeting of which due notice has been given, and Council shall subsequently be notified of the decision.

10.2 Where such a decision is made, the board shall be responsible for the transfer of branch funds and assets to the new branch that the members will be part of.

Agreed by RCN Council: June 2008