RCN Congress is the most important event of its type in the nursing calendar. It is where nursing staff meet to learn, develop and share nursing practice and to influence UK-wide nursing and health care policy.
How much it costs to attend
Congress is free to attend, however you will need to consider the costs for your travel and accommodation. We’ll be in Northern Ireland for the first time in 2018, and to help you plan your trip we will be making plenty of useful travel and accommodation information available here soon.
Funding to attend Congress
There are two ways that RCN members can receive funding to attend Congress:
- As a voting member. Funds are allocated to each Branch and Forum in proportion to the size of their membership, allowing them to send members to vote on their behalf in debates. Applications for voting places are open now
- Each country and English region has an amount of money available to help support members to attend Congress – particularly those who have not attended before. Information will be released via email and from their website pages
What you can expect at Congress
Each year, Congress debates around 25 subjects, all of which have been submitted by members, covering clinical, staffing, financial, social and political areas. These issues are often reported in the media direct from Congress, and they lead to wide-ranging work carried out by the RCN, often lasting for many years.
The whole process is led by the Chair of Congress (currently Glasgow-based Stuart McKenzie, a nurse manager in forensics and rehabilitation), his Vice Chair BJ Waltho (Associate Director of Operations, Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals) and the Agenda Committee (four elected RCN members).
Any RCN member is entitled to contribute to debates in the hall, and the Vice Chair will also mention relevant comments from social media from those members not able to attend in person.
There are two types of debate:
- Resolutions – RCN members vote on resolutions and a majority vote directs the future work of the RCN
- Matter for discussion – these allow members to explore issues and share views, but no vote is called
There will also be debates on emergency agenda items. These items can be submitted at any point up to and during Congress, and reflect the most pressing professional and political issues.
Each RCN branch and forum is allocated a certain number of votes, depending on their size. This helps to ensure that the whole RCN membership is represented in the vote.
We invite health professionals, politicians, campaigners and other influential speakers to address Congress each year. These are often announced in the days and weeks leading up to Congress and are always a highlight of the week.
Each morning, lunchtime, and early evening there are a selection of seminars to choose from – these are a great opportunity for personal and professional development and can count towards NMC revalidation requirements. Other events are tailored specifically for HCAs/health care support workers or students. These are in smaller rooms, last around 45 minutes and cover a broad range of specialist areas of practice, workplace issues, health and well-being and networking, and give you the chance to share knowledge and innovations.
The Exhibition opens on the first evening and runs until lunchtime on the penultimate day. It is the largest, most comprehensive exhibition of its type where you’ll be able to meet employers, universities, recruitment agencies and health care providers and see many of the latest innovations relating to your workplace.
Congress also features a number of networking and social events for all delegates. There’s an opening-night reception in the Exhibition Hall, events hosted by your own country or regional RCN office on the second night, and an end-of-Congress get-together on the penultimate evening. We’re also planning an extra-special event on Monday evening – more details will be released shortly.
Assistance whenever you need it
Members of the Agenda Committee, who lead Congress on the members’ behalf, and RCN Council (our governing body which has overall responsibility for Congress) are at Congress all week and would be delighted to meet and guide you. They are seated at the front of the auditorium during debates. You will be able to recognise the members of the Agenda Committee by their polo shirts.
You’ll never be far away from an RCN member of staff – they are there primarily to help you make the most of your time at Congress. Help is always available at the Registration Desk, the Information Hub and on the RCN Stand in the Exhibition Hall.
How Congress Works is a very useful warm-up session – it’s very informal, and will give you a good idea of what to expect during debates, as well as a chance to see what it feels like to speak at the podium.
When you arrive at Congress, you’ll get a comprehensive Congress Guide, which contains all the finer details of Congress including background information on the debates, locations, maps and timings. You will also receive a personalised information booklet through the post in the weeks leading up to the event.