RCN International

Our international work

We represent UK nursing in Europe and internationally

The RCN works with UK, European and wider international alliances and stakeholders to influence health and nursing policy globally.

We focus on supporting our international workforce by influencing an inclusive immigration system, fair testing and registration process and effective and ethical recruitment into the UK. We also work with partners to influence both UK and global health policy that recognises and promotes the rights, expertise and leadership of nurses for achieving better global health outcomes for all.

Nursing and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Across the world nurses and midwives are helping to ensure better health outcomes for all, addressing health inequalities and ultimately working to deliver Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and wider social change.  Nurses and midwives account for around half the global health workforce and we have a vital role to play in driving global progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In 2015, all countries, including the UK, adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This includes the 17 SDGs. The SDGs cover a range of issues and aim to deliver transformative change for all people in all countries by 2030. If applied together, the SDGs address the broad range of factors that shape our health – the social determinants of health. There are many examples of nursing work and innovation around the world that is driving progress on the SDGs, including improving access to health care, addressing poverty, exclusion and inequality, educating populations, improving nutrition, and supporting clean energy and sustainability.

Our report ‘Leaving no-one behind: The role of the nursing profession in achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in the UK’ highlights the critical role of nursing and midwifery in driving progress towards the SDGs. It includes 12 case studies of nurses and midwives who are leading innovative work to address issues such as poverty, exclusion, inequality and climate change.

We want to build awareness and knowledge of the SDGs amongst our profession so that we can use the SDGs to advocate for and drive the changes we want to see: stronger health systems, better health outcomes for all, greater equality and a strong, resilient nursing workforce which plays a leading role in delivering and sustaining social change. Read the report here.

If you have an example of your work and how it is contributing to the SDGs that you would like to share please get in touch with the Policy team at papa.ukintl.dept@rcn.org.uk

The UK’s relationship with the European Union (EU)

The Government's EU settlement scheme will allow EU nationals to remain in the UK after Brexit. Read more about this here.

In 2016, the public voted for the UK to leave the EU in a referendum. Following consultation with our membership, a decision was taken that the RCN would be neutral on Brexit. However, throughout the negotiations between the UK and the EU, we continued to raise our concerns that Brexit could have significant ramifications for health and care services and staff, and if not resolved seriously, will impact nursing staff’s ability to provide safe and effective care. Our priorities were:

1. The impact of Brexit on workforce sustainability;

2. Maintaining robust education and professional regulatory frameworks;

3. Ensuring that we continue to address public health threats collaboratively – particularly those crossing the borders;

4. Safeguarding decent working conditions, health and safety at work and employment rights; and

5. Maintaining collaboration for research and learning across Europe.

Following the General Election in 2019, Prime Minister Boris Johnson presented his EU Withdrawal Bill to Parliament. This Bill was granted Royal Assent, and the UK subsequently left the EU on 31 January 2020. The UK entered a transition period until 31 December 2020 and during this time the government negotiated the future relationship we will have with the EU, as well as began negotiating trade agreements with other countries across the globe. On 31 December 2020, the UK left the EU with a deal in place. 

However, if you are an EEA citizen, you still need to register for pre-settled or settled status. More information about your rights and how to apply is available on our website here.

If you have any queries about how EU exit could impact your registration with the NMC, please visit the NMC’s website.

RCN International Nursing Network

The International Nursing Network brings together health care practitioners interested in the field of international health care. Members of this community include registered practitioners, health care assistants, students and volunteers.

This groups enables RCN members interested in international humanitarian health care and development work to share experiences and support each other with practical advice.

Read more about the International Nursing Network

International alliances

Royal College of Nursing members have been giving their views on whether the RCN should re-join the International Council of Nurses (ICN). You can find out more about this discussion here.

Contact the RCN

For more information on international issues, please contact papa.ukintl.dept@rcn.org.uk