South East activist focus: Ali Upton

 Ali Upton 20 Aug 2019

RCN activist Ali Upton explains what her role involves.

I have just commenced my last four year term after being re-elected as the UK Safety Representative committee member for the South East region.

My national responsibilities are to ensure the Health & Safety picture for the South East region is fed into the National picture of the organisation. Communication from Safety Representatives on the ground is vital to enable a widespread, time pertinent and realistic picture of the incidents and problems across the region. I am happy to attend branch events and promote the role of the Health & Safety rep as well as delivering presentations to members.

In 2015 I attended a branch event and the subject of workplace assaults was mentioned. As a result of this I researched the topic and found no law to protect healthcare workers. I therefore submitted and had accepted a Congress agenda item on Assaults and this disparity of prosecutions between the health workforce and other front line professions. Following Congress the RCN worked closely with politicians, The Police Federation and other agencies to ensure that the law was changed. In September 2018 The Bill received Royal Ascent and became law.

During my time on the committee it has been important to me to represent the Safety Reps of the region and be their voice at national level.

In February this year I was asked to be the regional lead for Reps for the Safe Staffing for Effective care campaign. It was an exciting time, a new way of working. Not only by working in Co-production with RCN staff but also the changes that I would need to make in my own ways of working to embrace co-production. In the past I have listened and then relayed information in a condensed form representing the safety reps. This new way of working meant in this role I needed to do things differently. I needed to listen and hear what the membership were saying but not then articulate back in different words. Everyone’s voice matters, the way in which they see the situation and the way they articulate the detail. It is not for me to say their view is wrong; it is for me to ensure their view is heard within the campaign.

To be a lead I need people to lead; I don’t want to lead you in my views, I actually want you coming on the journey with me not sitting back. Earlier this week we had a really vibrant, collaborate regional reps training day. The day was entirely themed around safe staffing. The room was a busy buzz with everyone interacting, telling their experiences and working together to garner ideas as how their individual rep roles could come together to support and promote the campaign. There was also time and opportunity to express their frustrations regarding the campaign so far, and how they felt communication needed to be improved. These suggestions were emailed to all the South East regional team by the end of lunch, a great demonstrate of how ‘we are all listening’.

Together, the reps in the room did some amazing work to add into the campaign. The buzz in the room was great to hear. But my hope is the ‘buzz' will spread further. I want to hear from you, the rest of the team want to hear from you. We want your ideas I am here, I am listening lets get this moving forward. If you can think of anything you want to contribute to the South East regional campaign or if you would like some more information for your branch events contact us on

I'm looking forward to hearing from you.

Ali Upton

Ali Upton

RCN Activist

SE Safety Rep lead, Board member, Safe staffing campaign lead

Ali works at Royal Surrey County Hospital and is experienced in a number of RCN roles. Ali was presented with an RCN Award of Merit at Congress 2019.

Page last updated - 18/01/2020