There’s no denying that last year was a challenging time for the organisation and, in particular, RCN Council. With a new Council now in place, its Sue’s task as Chair to make sure the RCN is really connecting with members. She’s determined to deliver the changes they want to see.
“What we’ve learnt from the events of the last year is that there was a large group of members who felt that their voice wasn’t being heard,” says Sue. “We need to improve this quickly and restore members’ trust in Council and the organisation as a whole. We can only do that by listening and ensuring we have effective two-way communication.
“There’s work underway to address this and I’m confident we’ll get there.”
Sue, who joined the RCN during her first week as a student nurse in 1975, is also confident that members are the RCN’s biggest strength.
“The RCN is its members,” she says. “Not many organisations can say they have such a large membership. But we can only be the voice of nursing if we know what members are experiencing.
“We need to know what they’re passionate about and what they actually need. That’s not something we can guess. Council needs to be listening to what members tell us – if we don’t do that then we stop being effective.”
Not many organisations have such a large membership. But we can only be the voice of nursing if we know what members are experiencing
RCN Council exists to provide leadership and direction for the organisation and Sue is already clear about her priorities for the year ahead. She says: “The campaign for safe nurse staffing levels is our priority.
“Members have told us time and time again that more nursing staff are needed to provide safe and effective care to patients.”
Having being a nurse in the NHS for over 40 years, Sue has first-hand experience of the pressures facing members.
“For about 20 years, I worked as a manager and senior manager,” says Sue. “During that time I maintained my clinical competencies so that if someone was off sick or there were staff shortages, I could pick up my district nursing bag and do a shift wherever I was needed.
“Now staff shortages are the reality for most nursing staff every single day. We need to address the huge nursing vacancy rates, and we need to address them now.
We need to address the huge nursing vacancy rates, and we need to address them now
“Another top priority is supporting our student members and the Fund Our Future campaign. Nursing students are our future. We need to make sure they get the education they deserve and that they are supported to stay in nursing.”
Sue stresses that along with these priorities, improving member engagement is hugely important to her. “We’re undertaking research to better understand how members want to be communicated with, so we can see what changes we need to make as an organisation,” she explains.
Sue says as part of the Council Review, there’s also work underway to look at how different committees and RCN Council communicate with one another.
“We need to make sure we’re all talking to each other and that the people who make key decisions have access to all of the information they need to make those decisions.”
There’s still a lot of work to be done, but Sue is certain that it will result in positive change and better engagement.
“When I look at RCN Council and the wider membership, I see a vast amount of skills and knowledge,” says Sue, who describes her leadership style as “inclusive”. “I want to make sure we utilise that fully. I’m going to ensure that each Council member is heard within Council discussions and the consensus vote is acted upon in the decisions we make.
Our ability to deliver on what members want depends on members telling us what that is
“Our ability to deliver on what members want depends on members telling us what that is. I’m really keen for members to contact me directly with any suggestions, concerns or feedback so we can have a conversation about that and deliver the changes you want to see.”
Find out more about RCN Council members and how to contact them.