When thinking about a potential agenda item topic, you should aim for it to be all, or at least some, of the following...
A useful tool is PEST analysis. Think about your item with:
If your topic is too narrow it will not engage enough delegates. The more people who have an interest the more valuable the debate will be.
New topics are well placed to stimulate debate and existing issues can develop and throw up new challenges.
Pay, terms and conditions and the financial situation in the NHS often present issues. So it's about finding the right question to ask.
There are certain issues where people are keen to hear the views of nurses. For example, assisted suicide has caused great deal of debate in the public arena. The public has an interest in what we have to say and are prepared to take notice of our views and opinions.
Be realistic about what you want to debate. It's more valuable to debate something where our resulting actions can make a difference. One nurse for every patient may be your dream, but adequate staffing on the ward is a more realistic goal. It's up to you to check action hasn't already taken place.
National uniforms for everyone! While nursing staff in England's ears might prick with interest, members in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will be quick to point out that they already have national uniforms. But that's not to say a uniform debate is off the table. Members from the three countries could contribute to a debate by sharing their experiences.
Don’t forget – an emergency item must be on something that has arisen since 2 January 2018. You should also double-check your topic hasn’t already been recently debated.
Every year RCN Council decides its priorities for the coming year at its July Council meeting. It's useful to look at these and see where your topic might fit in.
Think about how the media will receive your item:
Resolutions ask Congress to decide something and often includes a call for action. They use words such as ‘ask’, ‘decide’, ‘calls on’ or ‘shows support’. For example:
Matters for discussion are requests for a discussion about an issue. Wording uses terms such as ‘discusses’, ‘reflects on’ or ‘considers. For example: