I represent Yorkshire and the Humber on the Professional Nursing Committee of the RCN and have recently taken on the role of Vice-Chair. The RCN is unique in having a dual function as a Trade Union and as a Professional Body and Royal College. Although this position brings challenges and some tensions with it, I believe that it is brings many advantages.
In 2017, a review of the governance structures of the RCN was conducted, with the aim of strengthening its dual functions. One of the principal outcomes was the creation of two new committees, the Professional Nursing Committee (PNC) and the Trade Union Committee (TUC), both of which are accountable to RCN Council.
I put myself forward for election to the PNC because I believed I could make a significant contribution to its stated aim of helping the RCN to strengthen its professional identity and ensure that the College remains the recognised voice of nursing and health care locally, across the UK and internationally.
My own involvement as an activist with the RCN has been predominantly though the professional function of the College. I have been an active Forum member and Forum Chair in my own speciality of paediatric oncology, which has given me valuable insight into the many spheres in which the College operates and its widespread influence.
Our health care services face one of the most challenging periods of our history, and the demands made on nursing grow every day. The importance of the RCN as the ‘strong, informed, professional voice’ of nursing has never been greater; and I want to contribute to the work of the PNC to strengthen that voice. I also want to make sure that children’s nurses have a presence on this influential committee of the RCN.
The new governance arrangements have taken time to become established. We now have a new Chair, and I have taken on the role of Vice-Chair, which is a great opportunity to play a more active role in setting and delivering the work programme of the PNC. I want to play a part in bringing together a number of different strands which contribute to the professional body, including Forums and the Fellows. We want to work closely with the UK Learning Representatives, and were joined at our last meeting by their Chair.
At the top of our work programme for 2019 is the campaign on safe staffing for effective care with a particular focus on building the evidence behind the campaign. Safe staffing is not just about numbers of course, it is also about skill mix, education and training. The education strategy for the College is therefore high on our priority list. Our work programme will continue to develop over the year as new priorities emerge from the membership at Congress.