The RCN’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) took place today (6 August) and for the first time in the College’s history, it was held online with almost 800 members tuning in.
The AGM is an opportunity to reflect on what the RCN has achieved over the past year and for members to ask questions about the running of the College, trade union matters and issues of a professional nature. This year, the AGM also presented a chance to recognise the incredible efforts of all members – nurses, nursing support workers, students and those returning to practice – during the COVID-19 pandemic.
RCN President Anne Marie Rafferty chaired the event and in her opening remarks told members how proud she is of the nursing profession and its response to the pandemic.
Anne Marie said: “These past months have showcased the best of nursing. It has highlighted to the public, policy makers and our colleagues, the expertise and agility of nursing and our capability to adapt to rapidly changing sets of circumstances.
“Nursing staff have gone above and beyond with an outstanding level of finesse and commitment.”
Addressing her first AGM as Chair of RCN Council, Dee Sissons also thanked members for rising to the challenges presented by the pandemic and led a minute’s silence to remember health care colleagues who have died from COVID-19.
Dee reflected on the historic strike action that took place in Northern Ireland earlier this year and reaffirmed RCN Council’s commitment to implementing recommendations from the recent Independent Governance Review to ensure the RCN is truly member-led.
Dee said: “The strike action was only possible through the individual and collective determination of our members in Northern Ireland. They achieved the necessary change and it demonstrates how much we can achieve when members and Council work together. As a Council we’re committed to continuing that engagement with you, our members.”
RCN members were able to submit questions before the event and during the meeting. More than 200 questions were submitted. Topics covered included the professional identity of nursing staff and the impact of COVID-19, but the issue of fair nursing pay dominated discussions.
Members shared frustration and anger that nursing pay doesn’t reflect the true value of nursing staff.
The current NHS pay deal runs until April 2021, but the RCN is calling on the government to bring next year’s pay discussions forward so nursing staff can receive a meaningful and early pay rise.
Promising to push for better pay for members in all settings, RCN Chief Executive & General Secretary Dame Donna Kinnair said: “This pandemic has shone a light on our profession, and we have risen to the challenge. All of you, working in all settings and sectors, go above and beyond to provide excellent care every day.
“I am determined to campaign on your behalf and influence those in power, so they take action and invest in nursing now. We will not wait for change any longer.”
Members will be able to watch a video of the event which will be available shortly and the answers to questions submitted by members will be published on our website soon. Find out more.