The RCN is not as a principle opposed to the use of a mutual model by any organisation providing healthcare under the NHS banner, and welcomes the opportunities for greater staff involvement in decision-making offered by such an approach to organisational governance.
However, recent Government initiatives in this area, and specifically the "Mutuals in Health" programme, have caused concern for the RCN and its membership, primarily as a consequence of the lack of staff-side involvement in its development or running, and the sketchily detailed involvement of commercial consultancy firms.
We feel that the principles on which the programme is based are far from those that we and our members would accept as being truly reflective of mutual organisations operating in the commercial and not-for-profit sectors, and which the Government states that it would wish to see the programme create.
We are also concerned that in an era of financial austerity, the large amounts of money that have been ear-marked for the programme could be better spent on maintaining and improving patient care, and staff conditions and morale.
Further to this we also have concerns about the outcomes of such experiments in relation to the terms and conditions of staff working for participating organisations, and would not wish to see them using the programme to undermine or reduce existing nationally agreed arrangements for pension entitlements, or training and professional development.