An update from your Council member

 Geoffrey Walker 22 Jun 2020

There is so much happening at the moment as well as the challenges presented by COVID-19 and please ensure you read our updates on the RCN website. It is important that we all keep safe at this time and are given the correct PPE in our work places; if you have any concerns do not hesitate to let the RCN know through our regional office.

Nettie Jones (Chair of the RCN South West Board), Geoffrey Walker (RCN Council South West member), Susan Masters (then South West Regional Director), Professor Anne Marie Rafferty (RCN President) and Richard Jones (Vice Chair of RCN Council)

Congress 2020 cancelled

Firstly I am, as I am sure many of you are, sad that Congress 2020 had to be cancelled. It’s always such an important showcase not only for the RCN but nursing and health care as a whole. It affords the opportunity to debate and look into the major issues that are presenting in health care at the moment, and of course a great time to network and meet new and old friends. But we hope 2021 will be even better, and look forward to seeing many of you there.

Independent Governance Review

The launch of the Independent Governance Review has taken place, the review as you know was asked for by members at Congress. This is a lengthy but very readable document and I hope that you all have a look and send back your comments. It is so important that we receive the feedback from our members. In essence the report has three major themes: member-led and member participation, accountability and culture. What it means is that this report will help us increase our accountability to you our members; help build trust between members and those who hold delegated authority in their name; and ensure our way of working benefits the nursing profession and an organisation with a proud history. Please take the time to read it.

Council Meeting 8 June

In view of the fact we were not at Congress and always hold a Council meeting at the start we went ahead with a virtual meeting on 8 June. This was two hours long and discussed several important topics. 

Firstly one I have mentioned already the Independent Governance Review. We also discussed The AGM which would normally be held during Congress. We looked at the possibility of a virtual meeting later in the year and a feasibility check is being undertaken and everyone will be informed as soon as we know a date, time and access. As part of this, and the loss of Congress, Council have agreed to hold a selection of debates and events from the 2020 Congress online later this year. We realise this is not the same as the real thing but unfortunately in the current situation large gatherings cannot be held as you know but we hope many of you will take part. It will not be easy but if nothing else in health care we are up for a challenge. 

Also it was agreed that BJ Waltho as Chair of Congress and Michael Brown as Vice Chair would have their terms of office extended for another year which is excellent news as they would have stood down at Congress. We therefore need not hold elections until next year. We are very focused on the pay negotiations for 2021/22 and will ensure all members are kept up to date with this as it progresses. So we covered a great deal on the two hours and look forward to full Council in July.

With the virtual reality in mind I see that many branches are holding their meetings on Teams etc. and I look forward to being invited to take part if you would like, it will give me the opportunity to meet many more members.

Personal Initiative

As part of the issues and tensions around the whole COVID-19 situation in my own trust I have been running a campaign featuring staff from all areas. I call it 'We’re all in it together, one team’, and I do so internally by email and also on my Twitter, many of you may well have seen it. 

It has been really successful with positive responses from all over the world. My goal was to allow many of the staff who would not normally be featured to be so and to let them shine for the wonderful work they do and the commitment they give. I have five set questions all answer and the differing responses have built up a picture of individual life in the pandemic. We have so far featured a porter, cleaner, administrator, receptionist, laboratory manager, sister, health care assistant, clinical technician, phlebotomist, finance manager and many more. We have had some 30,000 hits on Twitter and are continuing. Please read then on my Twitter page @gwalkerpoole1 

I feel very positive about the future and I am sure things will return to normality. We have been tested as never before and as things ease then perhaps our popularity will not be as high as it was with the public, as waiting lists increase as we begin to restart services. However we must continue as always in all sectors of health care that we work in, to keep safe and support the most vulnerable at their time of need. The RCN is a great organisation for its members, but we are nothing without you and your help and support.

I leave you with this last thought. At this time when we are seeing such terrible things happening  across the world, justice being sought in the battle against racism, the 'Black lives matter’ campaign, and concerns regarding our BAME colleagues and friends. I leave the final words to that great man Martin Luther King Junior: 

"True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice." (Stride Toward Freedom, 1958 Martin Luther King Junior).

All that remains is to say stay safe and look after yourself.

Best wishes

Please follow me on Twitter @gwalkerpoole1 and now on Facebook

Geoffrey Walker, Chair of RCN Dorset Branch

Geoffrey Walker

RCN Council member for the South West and Chair of the RCN Dorset branch


Geoffrey trained at the West Cumberland hospital before heading south to Poole.

He is currently a matron at Poole Hospital and has been for 14 years. He has a large remit with over 500 staff and more than 22 departments.

He has been an RCN member for 30 years and is also an active steward within his trust.

Page last updated - 22/06/2020