It was a matter for discussion on pensions, and I can still remember my heart pounding as I approached the microphone to speak.
I was determined to express the views of my branch, and many other Scottish branches, in calling for the item to become a resolution.
I believed the RCN needed to send a clear message to the government that changes to terms and conditions of NHS workers’ pensions were unacceptable.
While my experience was over very quickly, two thoughts from that day have stayed in my mind ever since.
Firstly, the importance of giving members who are new to Congress the opportunity to take part in the debates.
Addressing a room full of passionate nursing staff isn’t easy, but remember, Congress is your event, and your contribution, however big or small, will make for a better informed discussion.
The health care landscape has shifted significantly in recent years, so our debates should reflect the experiences of every RCN member: nurses, students, health care support workers and retired members too.
Secondly, it taught me about emergency agenda items; and how these ensure that Congress is debating the timeliest issues of the day.
The agenda this year is broad, and captures the RCN’s trade union and professional functions. I’m particularly looking forward to the debate on Nursing Associates.
However, there is often a new issue that deserves the attention of delegates. This year, that might have been the ban on NHS staff working agency shifts, until the RCN intervened. Now I think pay is likely to be raised by members as an emergency agenda item.
Finally, I ask members to arrive in Liverpool with an open mind, and to respect the opinions of others. As nursing staff we should welcome healthy debate, and recognise how this helps us to reflect on our practice.
Congress is your opportunity to tell the world what you love about nursing, and what you’d like to change too. So whatever your passion may be, don’t miss your chance to speak up.