Ruth Bailey Virtual SE

 Ruth Bailey 16 Jun 2020

Twiddling my thumbs on a Sunday night, I wondered how I would spend the wet week ahead that I had booked off to attend RCN Congress. It was postponed months ago, added to the ever growing Covid-Casualty list of fractured plans and disappointments.  I had been so looking forward to the thrill of Congress; meeting activists, fiery debates, innovative fringe activities and catching up with friends.  Most of all, I needed a dose of that intoxicating buzz for Nursing, that Congress ignites.

Mooching around on Twitter, I stumbled over Greater Liverpool and Knowsley’s plan to hold a virtual congress and I registered immediately, being grateful for some structure to my empty week.

The branch had put together an innovative programme of daily events including coffee-break catch-up’s, political debates, an open mic night and everybody’s current favourite- a Zoom quiz.
It was so much fun to join in.  I received an incredibly warm welcome from our friends up North and was delighted to see other members from the South East Region join in to. I joined the stimulating discussion on pay and learned a great deal about the negotiating process itself. It was good to persuasive arguments and feel the Congress fire in my belly return.

The programme was supported with a series of insightful interviews that branch members had carried out with key RCN figures. These include BJ Waltho, chair of Congress, our President Anne- Marie Rafferty and North West Council Member Dave Dawes and Regional Director Estephanie Dunn. They are a great way for members to get to know their representatives and well worth watching and perhaps, something we could replicate down South?

Coincidentally, our Brighton and Hove branch had chosen last week to hold its first ever branch meeting on Zoom. We had no idea how it would be received but felt it crucial to connect with members during these difficult times. We had an overwhelming response and had the biggest and broadest engagement that we had ever had. We can’t wait to build on this with our next branch meeting in July. I really encourage other branches to give go.

I am sad that we all missed Congress 2020, but could on-line RCN be its legacy? I feel excited by the possibilities and wonder if we are missing a trick? It was easy to log in to these events and could offer an exciting way to connect with each other in the Region. Why should we wait for Congress to connect with each other and beyond?  On-line meetings won’t suit everyone and will never replace meetings and events in person, but they offer an opportunity for wider engagement. I benefitted so much from meeting our friends from the North West and I think its time we took a leaf from their book.

South East quiz night anyone? 


Ruth is writing in her capacity as Brighton and Hove Branch Secretary, not on behalf of the Women's Health Forum.

Ruth Bailey

Ruth Bailey

RCN Women's Health Forum member

Nurse team leader

Ruth works in sexual health and contraception and has contributed to developing the integrated sexual health service where she works in Brighton providing a one stop shop for clients.

Page last updated - 17/11/2020