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What is an RCN rep?

Find out more about RCN stewards, health and safety representatives and learning representatives.

An RCN representative (rep) is a member who represents the RCN in the workplace. 

As a member-led organisation and trade union, the RCN has Representatives (reps) in the workplace so that members can support members. Reps act as the voice of the RCN in the workplace, speaking up on matters that concern the nursing workforce. Reps advocate for change and encourage members to take collective action.

Reps have extensive training and use their lived experience to support and represent members, and to increase the visibility of the RCN in the workplace. They build relationships with employers, influence workplace policy, promote equality and diversity, uphold best practice and signpost to helpful resources. RCN reps help to enhance patient care, as well as the working lives of you, your colleagues, and the future of nursing. RCN reps are there to support RCN members, and to build collective power. Any member can reach out to an RCN rep, and any RCN member can apply to become a rep.

Want to become a rep?

Register your interest by completing our online form.

RCN Reps Hub

Are you already an RCN rep? Visit the Reps Hub for information and resources to support you in your role.

Identify and reach out to your local rep today. The RCN has three types of accredited rep: 

The skills, knowledge, competence and responsibilities of the nursing workforce must be recognised and valued through fair pay and terms and conditions. Our members should expect to be treated fairly within a culture of respect and dignity.

When members are facing difficult employment issues, stewards will ensure that they feel empowered to speak up and engage in formal processes. Stewards can attend meetings with members. With good representation, members can be confident that they will get the fair hearing they deserve.

Learning and training must be valued and protected to ensure the nursing workforce can deliver high quality care. Our members should expect to have fair and equal access within a positive learning culture, which treats them with dignity and respect.

Learning reps provide space for members to think about their current practice, future aspirations and what learning they need to reach their goals. Where members are struggling or discouraged, learning reps help them access support and resources to boost their confidence, and challenge systemic barriers that might be getting in their way.

The health and wellbeing of the nursing workforce is fundamental to the quality of care they can provide. Our members have the right to a safe, healthy and empowering workplace culture where they are treated fairly with dignity and respect.

RCN health and safety reps understand and champion safe working practice and environments. They help members to understand what they should expect and how to identify where standards fall short, leaving them at risk.

Health and Safety reps are backed up by very important legislation and are essential to maintain a healthy workplace for all.

RCN reps build strong relationships in their workplace and understand how to influence for change. They connect with members to find out what matters to them and support them to get their voices heard to win changes that make a difference. RCN reps grow the membership and encourage people to be active because they know that power and real change require a strong voice at a local and national level. If you need support, reach out to your local rep today or contact the advice team to identify your local rep.

Discover how RCN representatives can support you

Hear from Francis

Francis used his extensive experience to signpost education resources, which was especially helpful to those new in post.

Hear from Ruth

Ruth helped members by explaining the role of the RCN and representatives to an employer, which was positively received.

Hear from Destiny

Destiny used his multicultural experience to further support diversity, inclusion and respect in his Trust.

Hear from Jane

Jane used her knowledge of the RCN to signpost a HCA colleague to financial support for funding their training and furthering their professional development.

Hear from Ian

Ian campaigned to protect staff, following the introduction of the Assault Against Emergency Act, leading to a roll out of Operation Cavell across his region.

Hear from Donna-Sue

Donna-Sue represented and supported a member with a formal review, leading to their manager offering flexible working to support the members commitments at home.

Hear from Patience

Patience used her experience of struggling with cultural differences to support her fellow international nurse colleagues by organising a learning event for managers.

Hear from Katherine

Katherine used her lived experience of using RCN services to reassure members that they're not alone and to ensure processes were carried out correctly.

Hear from Olga

Olga assisted a HCA colleague by negotiating a rota discussion with their manager and signposted them to a professional development opportunity.

Becoming a union rep at an independent health care employer

Beatrice Kasase, clinical lead at Berkeley Care Group, gives the lowdown on what it’s like being an RCN learning rep in a care home, and how you can become one too
Clinical lead nurse Beatrice Kasase smiling