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Professional Nursing Committee 

The committee responsible for the RCN’s professional work

Our Professional Nursing Committee helps us achieve our purpose as a Royal College, making decisions on professional issues affecting nursing. It is accountable to RCN Council. It has three main functions which are taken from our Royal Charter:

  • Promote the science and art of nursing, as well as education and training
  • Promote the advancement of nursing as a profession
  • Promote the professional standing and interests of our members

Find out more about the role and remit of our Professional Nursing Committee in the terms of reference.

Listen to the Nursing Matters podcast

Nursing Matters is a podcast for and by members of the nursing community. Bringing you lively discussion about the things that matter most to nursing staff, we explore what’s new in nursing and health care with guests from a diverse range of fields and perspectives.

Updates from the Professional Nursing Committee 


For many reasons, 2022 will be remembered as an incredibly significant year for the RCN. We held our first ever UK-wide industrial action ballot, completed far-reaching reviews into our governance and culture and raised unprecedented political and public awareness of both our college and the challenges faced by our profession.

In October, we acknowledged the publication of Bruce Carr KC’s independent review into the culture of our college, and we accepted its recommendations in full. We’re fully committed to working alongside RCN Council, the Trade Union Committee and the RCN Executive Team to achieve change.

We were delighted at the end of the year to welcome Professor Nicola Ranger as our Executive Director of Nursing and look forward to working closely with her. Huge thanks to Helen Whyley, Director for Wales, who has provided Executive Leadership to the Nursing Department, the Staffing for Safe and Effective Care Programme and the Professional Nursing Committee.

Much of the second half of 2022 was dominated by our industrial action ballot and subsequent strike action. This campaign has seen both the professional and trade union aspects of the RCN working in tandem – it has demonstrated the incontrovertible link between fair pay and safe staffing. As a senior nurse and picket supervisor so succinctly put it: “patient care is unsafe, because we don’t have enough staff, because we’re not paid enough."

Despite the organisational focus on industrial action, progress against KPIs on all areas of the committee’s workplan has been made.

Education, learning and development

RCN Learn


  • Launch and evaluate Phase 1a of RCN Learn
  • Secure resource for Phase 2


Phase 1 of the RCN Education, Learning and Development Strategy saw the launch of RCN Learn, a single sign-on online portal for RCN and RCNi education and learning resources to be accessed from one accessible place for members, registered users, and subscribers to RCNi plus. Work on Phase 2 started at the beginning of 2023.

Research strategy


  • Secure resource and establish an engagement programme for the RCN Institute of Nursing Excellence
  • Launch the RCN Research Strategy (2023)


Council agreed and approved the funding for the Institute of Nursing Excellence which will bring both the ELD and Research strategies together. Market research to explore funding opportunities and international comparators has been completed.

A series of virtual events has been planned with the RCN Research Society and other members to discuss and agree our vision for the RCN Research Strategy.

Staffing for safe and effective care

Nursing Workforce Standards


  • The RCN Nursing Workforce Standards are endorsed, and adopted nationally, regionally and locally.
  • Setting-specific Nursing Workforce Standards resources are developed.


A process for the adoption and endorsement of the Standards is under development through the Staffing for Safe and Effective Care Programme.

Criminal Justice and Speciality Nursing-specific content has been developed and is now live. Other setting and country-specific content within the professional guidance section of the Nursing Workforce Standards will be reviewed and enhanced.

Professional Framework


  • Agree an RCN definition of nursing to underpin the programme.
  • Revise the principles of nursing practice; co-create and publish an overarching UK professional framework for nursing.


Definition of nursing: An engagement and consultation process has been completed, and long and short definitions have been agreed by the committee. Once the sign-off process has been completed, these will be adopted as the college’s standard definitions of nursing.

Professional framework: Three workstreams have been established to progress aspects of this work: Professional Practice; Levels of Practice; and Career Frameworks. A draft revision of the Principles of Nursing Practice – which are based on the definition of nursing, have been informed by expert feedback and have been mapped to the NMC Code. This has been presented to the committee, and the work is continuing. Work on Levels of Practice and Career Frameworks has commenced.

Forums and networks


  • Recommendations within the forums and networks review are implemented.


While some operational improvements have been made, other recommendations detailed in the report present challenges and will take longer to implement. We will work closely with the Director of Nursing who has identified this work as a priority for 2023. The Chair of the Forum Governance Group, and the Forum Chairs Committee will remain central to this workstream.



  • To promote RCN policy positions and see them adopted by stakeholders
  • To develop evidence-based rationale to establish and / or support our influencing position
  • To gain increased political support (contacts, mentions, attitude and disposition shift) within political parties across the UK


Using the approach agreed with PNC in 2022, a review and analysis of the UK Government legislative programme is underway. This will result in recommendations for our lobbying approach being presented to RCN committees and Council.

Mapping work on a nursing leadership (international to bedside) position and resource is ongoing, and is aligned to the corresponding Congress workstream.

Policy analysis and solutions for nursing workforce supply, recruitment and retention in England was completed and published October 2022.

An evidence-based policy analysis and proposed solutions for retention will be published and promoted in February 2023.

Meeting agenda

Report to members - October and December 2022

We spent time at the beginning of the meeting discussing in an open and honest conversation the recently published independent review on the culture of the RCN (the ‘Carr Review’).  

The Professional Nursing Committee accepts in full the recommendations laid out by Bruce Carr KC. The report is an incredibly difficult read, and we acknowledge the seriousness of the issues raised. The whole committee expressed a willingness to take part in rebuilding the College as a result of the recommendations and has confidence that this can be done under the leadership of Pat Cullen, our General Secretary and Chief Executive, and Carole Popplestone, our Chair of RCN Council.  

PNC wants to be part of the solution and as we lead the professional agenda of the College, we will work alongside the Trade Union Committee, Council, the Executive Team and others to progress this work. The PNC is also ready to proactively and robustly challenge if this work isn’t progressing effectively. 

We discussed the ongoing NHS pay campaign and how patient care and safe staffing are the leading messages in the member and public-facing activity being undertaken around the UK. PNC members raised specific questions which will be fed into the ongoing campaign work. The ‘mini series’ of our podcast ‘Nursing Matters’ which had addressed fair pay, safe staffing, and the history of industrial action in the profession in the run up to the opening of the ballot were highlighted. 
We heard an update on the development of the RCN’s five-year strategy. It is encouraging to see this work is well underway and we look forward to further involvement in both the development and implementation of the strategy. 

As Chair, I updated the committee on my recent attendance at the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham.  I attended a fringe discussion on the ‘future of work’ where I was able to discuss the poor terms and conditions under which many of our members work, met with Alex Chalke, Conservative MP for Cheltenham, and had a chance to meet with the leadership team of the Royal College of Midwives. 

We reviewed our work programme, and received an update on workstreams including the Education, Learning and Development Strategy, and the status of the development of the RCN Institute for Nursing Excellence. This is an exciting development, and we look forward to further updates on the long-term planning and funding arrangements for this essential workstream. 

Meeting agenda

Report to members

The committee met at RCN HQ on Wednesday 7 September for a hybrid in person/online meeting, with a packed agenda. 

My update as chair included: the recent joint TUC/PNC meeting where amongst other things we discussed the RCN’s 5-year, 2023-2028 strategy; the links between the Fair Pay for Nursing and Safe Staffing campaigns in the context of the industrial action strike ballot, and preparations for the COVID inquiry. I provided an update on our ‘mini-series’ of the Nursing Matters podcast which has focused on the upcoming industrial action strike ballot, looking at this issue from a variety of viewpoints. Please take a listen here.

We had a comprehensive update on the progress of the industrial action strike ballot and the digital, postal, and face-to-face activities underway. We were able to share the feedback committee members have received and asked staff to incorporate that as plans develop. Since we met as a committee, the campaign has been paused as a mark of respect following the death of our patron, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

We discussed and agreed a new RCN position Statement on Clinical Supervision and we look forward to building on this work over the coming months. This work has been a collaboration with the Forum Chairs Committee, and the nursing department. It is underpinned by an all-forum project and literature review - thirty years of clinical supervision. ‘Barriers to overcoming the barriers': A scoping review exploring 30 years of clinical supervision literature.

We discussed the content requirements for the proposed RCN position statement on Nursing Associates extended scope of practice. We agreed that this should sit separately from the position statement published last year on role substitution but given that evidence shows Registered Nurse posts are being inappropriately substituted with Nursing Associate posts, it is appropriate to also review and strengthen our existing position and activity around the risk and practice of RN substitution.

We talked in detail about the Professional Framework Programme which is under development. The first workstream which is underway is a revision of both the ‘definition of nursing’ and the ‘principles of nursing practice’, which together will underpin the whole programme. The workstream on ‘levels of practice’ is about to get underway. Paul Trevatt, our new London member, has agreed to take the PNC lead for the overall programme.

We reviewed our current work programme, and discussed new approaches to managing our workplan, milestones and KPIs, and how we can use these across our work to best effect. We discussed the next steps in creating our PNC risk register, and approach to the reporting of risk.

We received an update on the work resulting from the review of RCN Forums and Networks. A lead is being recruited for this work, who will conduct a full review of the recommendations and develop a full project plan for implementation. In the meantime, progress towards some of the operational recommendations has continued, and that progress was shared with the committee.

We discussed the Staffing for Safe and Effective Care campaign, and, with the current focus on the upcoming ballot on NHS pay, how we ensure the link between safe staffing and fair pay is a constant part of our campaigning work.

On the Nursing Workforce Standards, we discussed the development of a process for both endorsement and adoption of the standards by organisations including regulators, and health and social care providers across the UK, to ensure that they become embedded in all health and care settings.

Pending a small number of amendments, the committee discussed and confirmed the RCN’s response to the NMC consultation on pre-registration programme standards which was developed in consultation with members.

We were given an update on the processes and reporting schedule for the work resulting from resolutions passed at Congress in June. We look forward to receiving the first reports in October.

We were given an update on the work being undertaken on the RCN’s Education, Learning and Development strategy: RCN Learn, the new portal for online learning which was ‘soft’ launched recently and will have a more public launch later in the Autumn. We heard that an independent organisation has been commissioned to undertake the evaluation of the RCN’s research alliance with the University of Sheffield. The report of that evaluation will feed into the development of the RCN Research Strategy, which is now underway, with a plan that it will be launched at the RCN Research Conference in 2022. 

At the end of the week, we were saddened by the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, our Royal Patron, and I was honoured to be able to sign the book of condolence at Cavendish Square on behalf of the Professional Nursing Committee.

Meeting agenda

Report to members

The most recent meeting of PNC was held on 28 June 2022. 

We welcomed our new member from the Southwest, Colin Baker. We had all been saddened by the decision of Professor Alison Leary to stand down from the London seat. We thanked Alison for the significant contribution she has made to PNC since she joined us, and we are delighted that she will remain involved in some key pieces of work as a member, and as an RCN Fellow. 

We heard an update from the UK Programme Board for Staffing for Safe and Effective Care (SSEC) from Helen Whyley, Executive Lead for this work. The Health & Social Care Bill has now been passed into law and does not include the RCN proposed amendments for workforce accountability and assessment. The health minister has suggested that there may be scope for our ask on a requirement to have a Lead Nurse as part of every Integrated Commissioning Board, as part of secondary legislation. The RCN’s work to influence legislation on safe staffing in all four UK countries continues.

We received an update from the SSEC UK communications workstream. Safe staffing continues to be a focus for much of the RCN’s communications strategy, with opportunities to reflect the member voice always being considered. The Nursing Workforce Standards were the focus of a cross-platform campaign of activity during May and throughout Congress, with new video content created, a social media takeover, 1,000 copies printed and distributed in Glasgow, and the Mona Grey Lecture which was well attended both in person and online. Congress also saw the publication of the report of the ‘Last Shift’ Survey. This report contributed to the calling of a debate in the House of Lords on safe staffing, and the unsustainable pressures on nursing staff.

The latest episode of our podcast Nursing Matters focused on two Congress resolutions around ethical overseas recruitment and supporting and learning from diaspora nursing groups in the UK. The next episode is planned for August.

It was our pleasure to welcome RCN general secretary and chief executive Pat Cullen to the meeting to provide an overview of progress and next steps with the KPMG and Carr reviews and updates on the recruitment process for senior nursing posts across the UK.

We reviewed those resolutions passed at RCN Congress in June which Council have delegated to PNC as the lead governance committee. I’d like to thank individual members of PNC who volunteered to provide the member lead on these items, working with staff leads, proposers and seconders, entities and other key stakeholders. We received and discussed a paper setting out the complexities of one of these items, the call on Council to lobby legislators to protect the title 'Nurse' in the UK. The committee were delighted to see this item passed, and work will be taken forward in the context of proposed regulatory reform.

We received an update on the phased implementation of the Education and Learning Strategy and were pleased to hear that the shared RCN/RCNi Education and Learning Portal is on schedule to launch towards the end of the summer. 

Work continues on the development of the RCN Professional Framework with the recent recruitment of a further professional lead for this critical programme. We were updated on the work of the professional practice workstream, looking at the definition of nursing, with a review of the principles of nursing practice. The other 2 workstreams, defining levels of practice, and the development of the RCN Career Framework will follow.

We were delighted that the final report of the Forums and Networks Review was agreed by Council in May 2022 and published on the RCN website in June. The report identified 15 recommendations, which were all approved by Council. The next steps will include the appointment of a lead staff member to take forward the implementation plan to address these recommendations to optimise the effective functioning of forums and networks and raise their professional profile to greater effect. PNC and the Forums Governance Group will be regularly updated on progress.

Report to members

Our most recent PNC meeting took place on 28 April.

I started with an update on the meeting that PNC members and I had with RCN Chair of Council Carol Popplestone last week. We look forward to receiving the updated terms-of-reference for PNC.

Our podcast Nursing Matters now goes out monthly. We will be recording a special episode for Nurses’ Day on 12 May and plan to take an in-depth look at nursing in politics later in the year.

We were pleased to hear that the substantive RCN Director of Nursing position – a crucial role at the college - will be advertised shortly. We received updates on Congress and the re-opening of our library and heritage centre at RCN HQ in London.

We looked in detail at the specific areas of work for which the committee provides governance and oversight.

An important next step in developing the RCN Professional Framework will be the recruitment of a project lead. The work of the professional practice workstream, looking at the definitions of nursing, with a planned review of the principles of nursing practice, will be the foundation for the remaining workstreams and important pieces to support the wider programme.

There is an urgent need for the Staffing for Safe and Effective Care (SSEC) programme to consolidate the work completed last year on the RCN’s Nursing Workforce Standards, and to ensure they are being used within the college to define our position - as a Royal College – on safe staffing.

The recently formed expert reference group supporting the SSEC – which includes PNC members – has agreed to meet more regularly. It will commission work enabling us to build on the Workforce Standards to take a stronger position on staffing levels and to develop a series of staffing ‘red lines,’ essential for our members working in this safety critical profession.

Work to develop a new shared  RCN/RCNi education, learning and development portal is well underway, and we look forward to seeing the first phase of this work launched later in the summer.
The development of a new RCN Research Strategy has been a priority for the committee for some time, and we are determined that this work will be completed in 2022, working closely with the Research Society as well as the team in the nursing department. 

A significant Review of RCN Forums and Networks took place in 2021, including a huge amount of work from many forum steering committee members and others. The need to properly support and resource the forums, and to develop a consistent model for networks is understood within the college and work is underway – in consultation with PNC and the chairs of the Forums Governance Group and Forum Chairs Committee – to strengthen the recommendations of the review. We look forward to presenting the report to Council in the coming weeks. 

The final element of our review of our work plan centred on our role in shaping the RCN’s national and international policy influencing work. We agreed to trial a series of dedicated ‘deep dive’ discussion spaces where PNC members with expertise/interest in particular areas would be given the opportunity to contribute to a more in-depth discussion than is possible in our business meetings.

As part of our consideration of the RCN’s ‘big five’ priority programmes we were given an update on the RCN’s organising work, and the development of the RCN organising model. We discussed how this is as relevant to our professional work as it is to  as our trade union activities. We received a written update on the Independent Health and Social Care Sector Strategy.

Having been asked to review a paper on clinical imaging referrer guidance, the committee agreed its position that registered nursing associates should not be IR(ME)R referrers as the assessment and planning of care is outside of their scope of practice, as defined by the NMC. Following earlier concerns raised by the Nursing Support Worker Committee and others on the blurring of the boundaries between registered nurses, and nursing associates, we confirmed our intention to develop a position statement to build on that published last year in relation to role substitution. 

We scrutinized an update to the RCN’s position on Simulation-based education and made suggestions for strengthening and clarifying this position ahead of expected consultation from the NMC later this year.

Finally, we were joined by Deepa Korea and Sarah McGloin from the RCN Foundation, who gave us an update on wide ranging work of the Foundation, as well as a ‘sneak preview’ of a campaign they are supporting to be launched on Nurses Day and which highlights the diversity and value of the role of modern nursing and midwifery.

Key Messages PNC 23/03/22 This week the Professional Nursing Committee came together in a hybrid meeting, with some members meeting at the RCN headquarters for the first time for more than two years.

We were joined by Helen Whyley, who is continuing to act as Executive Lead for the Nursing department alongside her role as Executive Director for Wales. We thanked her for her continued work in this role, whist plans are progressed for the recruitment of a new Director of Nursing. The committee acknowledged the difficulties of the current position, the need to move to recruitment, and the mitigations that have been put in place until an appointment can be made.

The Committee signed off the high-level Work Plan agreed at our strategy day in January, and subsequently recommended to RCN Council. Staffing for Safe and Effective Care remains our highest priority. Also agreed as critical is our work on a Royal College of Nursing Professional Framework. Implementation of the Education, Learning and Development Strategy, the development of a Research Strategy, and the review of the Forums and Networks, all remain important elements within our work programme alongside national (and international) policy influencing. We received updates on a number of these workstreams during our meeting.

We were updated by Wendy Preston and Alison Leary on the progress so far on the Professional Framework. Sally Bassett, Chair of the Forum Chair’s Committee is the member lead for workstream 1, which focusses on professional practice, and she gave us an update on their work exploring definitions of nursing, and a planned review of the Principles of Nursing Practice.

We were pleased to hear of the progress of the Education, Learning and Development Strategy from Nicola Ashby who summarised the actions being taken to secure the planned ‘Go-Live’ date for the education portal. An update on risks was discussed and acknowledgment of mitigations in place.

Helen Whyley who leads the Staffing for Safe and Effective Care programme gave an update from the 4 countries. Committee members highlighted the extremely difficult position faced by nursing teams across all settings. Shortly after our last meeting the report on the nursing workforce was published through the SSEC programme. This report shows how the pandemic has highlighted and exacerbated existing, long-standing issues with health and care workforce supply and retention. development/publications/staffing-for-safe-effective-care-labour-nursing market-2022-uk-pub-010-108

Helen reminded members of our current survey asking members about staffing levels on their ‘last shift’ and we agreed to promote this through our own networks – including RCN Students and Nursing Support Workers. The survey is open until Sunday 27th March, with many members having responded so far. on-your-last-shift-090322 

The Committee discussed and agreed a proposal on to convene an expert panel of senior RCN members and staff expert in workforce planning to review evidence and steer new work on standard setting and influencing by the RCN.

Lara Carmona briefed us on the progress of the Health and Care Bill towards legislation, and the outcome of RCN lobbying for a range of amendments to the Bill, in particular those related to workforce, and workforce planning. 030322 

The Committee was joined by Bridie Kent, who was welcomed as the new Chair of the Forums Governance Group, and alongside Sally Bassett we received an update of the review of the Forums and Networks. PNC agreed to the categorisation of recommendations into those which require further work and then approval by either Council or the Executive team, and those which can be implemented as soon as possible.

The committee received and reviewed the Forums Annual Report. We acknowledged the significant amount of work that has been achieved through the forums despite the challenges of the pandemic. Sally updated us on the most recent strategy day for the Forum Chairs, and work being undertaken collaboratively across the forums which contributes to the professional work and profile of the RCN.

The Committee was reminded that this is the final year of the Strategic Research Alliance with Sheffield University. We were provided with information of some of the outputs of this alliance. An independent evaluation is to take place, and we sought assurance that this will capture information on the effectiveness and impact of the alliance, and the learning from the research undertaken.

Staffing for Safe and Effective Care

The ‘Staffing for Safe and Effective Care’ programme is the Committee’s highest priority in our policy work and is of particular importance given the unsustainable pressures our members are facing in all sectors of health and care, and the risks to both patient safety, and staff safety and wellbeing. The work to advocate and lobby for the sustainable expansion of the nursing workforce, for demand led workforce planning, and for accountability for that workforce to be enshrined in legislation continues across all four countries of the United Kingdom Throughout 2021 we have had detailed reports from all four countries on the policy position, and the progress towards a legislative framework (or lack of progress in the case of England and Northern Ireland).

In May we launched the ‘Nursing Workforce Standards’ which apply across all health and care settings – wherever there is a nursing workforce. The standards set out our expectations as the Royal College of Nursing in relation to the planning and provision of the nursing workforce. They are central to the campaign for staffing for safe and effective care. PNC members have presented the standards, alongside RCN staff colleagues from the nursing department, and regional teams in a wide range of settings. We have collaborated on the development of resources for RCN members and their representatives; we are determined to use the standards to advocate for positive change at the policy, regulatory, and organisational level – in all settings. 
The nursing workforce crisis has deepened as the year moved towards its close. Whilst ensuring that resources and support are available to members on the website, and through RCN Direct, we recognised the need to campaign more actively and effectively on the central demand for staffing for safe and effective care, recognising the need for greater public engagement, and to ensure that we demonstrate how we can, and should, be part of the solution in addressing this long standing, but increasingly acute, crisis. This will remain central to our work plan, and we agreed that a separate ‘think tank’ event would be convened, early in the new year, to include expert members from across the UK to further test and develop our position. This will be followed by the PNC strategy day in January when we will further review this critical area of our policy and professional advocacy work.


Protecting and valuing the role of the Registered Nurse

One of the products of the current nursing workforce crisis has been the increased evidence of role substitution; this includes the substitution of Registered Nurse roles with nursing associates, and opening nursing roles to other registered health professionals, including nurse leadership roles. In June of 2021 we published the position statement on ‘preserving safety and preventing harm – valuing the role of the registered nurse’. This statement called for all employers working within health and social care to ensure that where a vacancy exists for a registered nurse, this is open to registered nurse applicants only. It set out our expectation that all employers, regardless of sector, should develop robust workforce plans, in line with our Nursing Workforce Standards, and taking into account the nature of the role, service demand and skill mix.  It highlighted the impact and critical importance of strong nurse leadership. We identified an item which had been accepted on to the 2021 Congress agenda on ‘the erosion of the role of the registered nurse’ (a matter for discussion from the General Practice Nursing Forum) which would align to this position. At the end of 2021 we recognised the need to strengthen this position as well as supporting increased lobbying and influencing activity in this space, and this will be taken forward early in 2022. The Committee supports the current petition calling for the protection of the title nurse in law and the question of nursing roles and titles will be taken forward through our work on a Royal College of Nursing Professional Framework.

Professional Framework 

This significant piece of work is underway under a programme board whose leaders include PNC member Professor Alison Leary and RCN Fellow Felicia Cox. It will build on and update existing resources and guidance to co-create our Royal College professional framework for nursing today. It has three defined workstreams: ‘What is Nursing’, essential to articulating the value of nursing; ‘Levels of Practice’ and a ‘Career Framework’. 

One element of the Career Framework looks at routes into nursing including the Prince of Wales Cadet Scheme which launched in England in 2021.  Many cadets have gone on to careers in health and care settings and interest in this scheme is considerable.  

Education Learning and Development Strategy

The new strategy was launched at the RCN Education Forum conference in April 2021. It was a critical piece of work for the committee, as both a requirement of our Royal Charter, and because we know that education and professional development is one of the top priorities for our members in all sectors. Dr Sue Haines was co-chair of the Task and Finish Group which oversaw the detailed development of the strategy and included members from key committees, the professional forums, and the RCN Fellows. Sue is now co-chair of the joint programme board, which is overseeing its implementation, with continued membership input from an inclusive expert reference group.

The first year of the strategy has focussed on ‘making good’ current provision and laying the path for implementation and delivery.  A quality assurance framework has been agreed for all educational resources, which are mostly found on the professional development and ‘clinical pages of our website, as well as through our library. Whilst there is a huge amount of great content available, this may not always be visible or easily accessible to our members. One of the key deliverables for the strategy is the development of a new ‘portal’ or doorway to enhance and improve access. 

During 2021 PNC Committee members Professor Julie Green and Professor Alison Leary supported the RCN response to the NMC’s proposals on post registration standards, and our position that Specialist Practitioner Qualifications should be retained, highlighting their particular importance in community settings. 

In England the merger of HEE into NHSE raises a very real concern that the loss of the independence of HEE could raise the risk of students continuing to be used by service without the focus on quality of education. We will be watching this carefully alongside our colleagues on the RCN Student Committee. We have also agreed to the development of an RCN position on the increased use of simulation in learning.

Research Strategy

Education and Research are closely linked and both key responsibilities for the Committee. In 2021 we agreed with the Research Society on the need to develop a Research Strategy for the RCN. Unfortunately, although some early work got underway during the year, this work has not progressed in recent months due to competing priorities. A Deputy Director of Nursing with responsibility for Education Research and Ethics will be appointed to the RCN in early 2022 who will lead this work, alongside the Research Society and others from our expert membership.  

Forums and Networks Review

The 35 professional forums make an important contribution to the professional work of the RCN. Their work is not always visible to the wider membership or aligned with the strategic objectives of the College. An array of networks has developed over the years and are not all formally identified within the governance framework of the organisation. There are varying models of their development and ways in which they function; some are linked to a forum, while others may report to a regional board or country.  Both forums and networks both provide an opportunity for members to network, share best practice and lead the development of knowledge within specialist areas of interest.

A task and finish group was established by PNC early in 2021 to undertake a review of the forums and networks. The group was comprised of members, including forum chairs, and staff from the nursing department. The review was completed at the end of August 2021, with the final report received and agreed by PNC in December. 

The aim of the review was to look at how the work of forums and networks, underpinned and supported by a robust governance framework, could be optimised and the professional profile raised to greater effect. The review was undertaken through four main workstreams, supported by a communications and engagement working group:

- Purpose and role 
- Governance processes and functions
- Effective ways of working
- Support to forums and networks

The report made 27 recommendations, which having been agreed by PNC will be taken forward through RCN Council and the Executive team in early 2022. The report and recommendations will then be published to the wider membership.

Collaborative Working

The strength of the RCN is in its twin functions, as professional body and Royal College, and special Trade Union. As one of the two principal committees of the RCN, accountable to our governing Council, we work closely with colleagues on the Trade Union Committee and the two committees met together formally for the first time in 2021. We will be continuing joint working in key areas as we move into the new year. The complexity of nursing as a safety critical, knowledge intensive profession has been central to the RCN’s campaign for fair pay, terms, and conditions, and PNC is represented on the UK Pay Programme Board to strengthen the professional case. 

RCN members are everywhere, and we know that many work outside the NHS, in social care, in independent health services and in the voluntary sector. As the RCN continues to develop its strategy for the independent health and social care sector, PNC is represented on the joint programme board by Mary Codling. The Nursing Workforce Standards, which apply in all settings, are being taken forward through this work too.

As the RCN develops an organising model to support members looking to make positive change in the workplace, I have represented PNC on the interim board, to ensure that this approach incorporates the breadth of professional issues that matter most to our members, and our identity as a professional body as well as a trade union.

Ways of working

We are determined to find better ways of communicating our work to RCN members, and externally. After each meeting we send out ‘key messages’ to members, which are posted on our pages of the RCN website, but we recognise the need to find more and different ways of talking about what we do and will be working more on this in 2022. We will continue with our ‘Nursing Matters’ Podcasts, where we talk about a range of professional issues, and we always welcome suggestions for topics and guests. 

Underpinning our work as a committee is a recognition of the need to ensure that we follow and promote within the RCN core principles of equity, diversity, and inclusion. Committee development sessions this year focussed on how we bring the principles and practice of inclusive leadership to our governance role within the RCN.

Your chair and vice chair

There are 14 Professional Nursing Committee representatives across the UK. They are led by a chair and vice chair, who also serve on the committee as regional representatives.  

Rachel Hollis Professional Nursing Committee

Rachel Hollis FRCN

Member for Yorkshire and the Humber, January 2022 - December 2025

Rachel Hollis is Honorary Nurse Advisor for Children’s Cancer in the Leeds Children’s Hospital at the Leeds Hospitals NHS Trust. Rachel trained originally as a Registered General Nurse in London before going on to become a Registered Children’s Nurse in Leeds where she spent most of her professional working life.

Rachel is a children’s cancer nurse, and has played an active role in the development of children’s cancer nursing, and children’s cancer services, at the national level in the UK. She represented the RCN on the Guidance Development Group for NICE ‘Guidance on Improving Outcomes in Children and Young People with Cancer’ (2005). She went on to represent the RCN on the NHS England Clinical Reference Group for Children and Teenage Cancer.

Rachel is a past Chair of the former Paediatric Oncology Nurses Forum and was the first Chair of the Children and Young People’s Specialist Care Forum. She was made a Fellow of the RCN in recognition of her contribution to the nursing of children with cancer. Rachel has a particular interest in international health care and is a member of the nursing group within the International Society of Paediatric Oncology (SIOP). She is a Trustee of ‘World Child Cancer’, a charity which works to support twinning programmes and capacity building in a number of low- and middle-income countries. Rachel and the team in Leeds are actively involved in supporting a children’s cancer programme in North West Cameroon.

Rachel is also a Trustee of Young Lives vs. Cancer, the UK’s largest charity supporting the families of children with cancer, and lobbying for improved services nationally.

Outside of work Rachel enjoys travel and walking; often combining the two. She has the Yorkshire Dales and Moors on her doorstep, and travelling further afield has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro twice!

Siobhan Donald

Siobhan Donald

Member for Northern Ireland, January 2020 - December 2023

Siobhan is currently the Interim Assistant Director of Nursing at the Public Health Agency, having stepped in to this interim role following five years as Commissioning Nurse Consultant. Prior to her time at the Public Health Agency, Siobhan held a number of roles within Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, from staff nurse through to assistant service manager.

Within the RCN, Siobhan has served on RCN Council and is currently a member of the Public Health Forum Steering Committee.

Your regional representatives

Country and regional representatives are elected by members in their country or region. 

Sue Haines

Sue Haines

Member for East Midlands, January 2020 - December 2023 

Sue is Assistant Director of Nursing (Professional Development, Education and Workforce) at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust (NUH), she leads the Centre for Nursing & Midwifery Clinical and Professional Development within the Institute for Nursing and Midwifery Care Excellence. She is an Honorary Professor, University of Nottingham, School of Health Sciences and a visiting lecturer at Nottingham Trent University. Sue is an experienced nurse leader in acute care and works proactively to influence and develop nurse education, nurse led research and the development of practice, across health and social care, regionally and nationally, to respond to the changing physical and mental health needs of patients, care home residents, carers and staff. She chairs the Nottinghamshire Integrated Care System’s Nursing and Midwifery Cabinet, and works actively to raise the profile and recognition of nurses and midwives. Sue is experienced in supporting and coaching nurses and frontline care staff, coproducing and developing inclusive approaches to staff engagement, shared decision making, career progression and professional development.

She has specific expertise and experience in talent management through doctoral research, developing clinical leadership and implementing new approaches to inclusive talent management and retention of nurses. Post-doctoral research interests include nursing workforce development, nursing careers, retention, preceptorship and shared governance.

Sue’s role includes responsibility for students in practice learning, she is experienced in education commissioning, recruitment and post-registration career development, including advanced clinical practice.

She is actively involved in the analysis and implementation of international standards for excellence in nursing and a founding member of Nursing and Midwifery Excellence UK (NAME-UK), a network of organisations in the UK leading the pursuit of excellence in nursing practice through credentialing with the American Nurses Credentialing Centre.

Alison Paterson

Member for Eastern, January 2023 - December 2023

Alison is the Lead Cancer Nurse at East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust. Qualified for over 20 years she started her nursing career on a Bone marrow transplant ward moving onto intensive care and completing her Masters in Advancing Critical Care Nursing at Kings College London. More recently she has held CNS roles in Haemato-Oncology and Acute Oncology including a Lecturer-Practitioner role qualifying as an Independent Prescriber and practicing at an advanced level.  
Alison has been a member of Blood Cancer UK Nurses group since 2018 and a member of their Healthcare Professional Advisory Group since 2020 contributing to the APPG on Blood Cancer. She is also the Lead for the East Of England Cancer Alliance Lead Cancer Nurses Group.


Paul Trevatt

Paul Trevatt

Member for London, June 2022 - December 2023

Paul has worked in nursing and healthcare management for more than 30 years in a variety of roles, settings and organisations, which span clinical to operational, strategic to policy. 

He has contributed to a number of national work streams and policy initiatives, which focused on the nursing contribution to cancer care, inequalities, patient experience and end of life. 

Paul’s continued commitment to the nursing profession has resulted in high-profile work to drive forward improvements in the role of nursing leadership within healthcare, variations in practice, and the continually evolving role of the specialist nursing workforce. He has published and presented on many of these themes and remains passionate about clinical professional development and innovations in practice. In 2015 he was identified as one of Nursing Times Leaders. 

He has a degree in Palliative Care and a Masters in Healthcare Management.

He has been a board member of a number of national and European nursing charities, UKONS (United Kingdom Oncology Society) and EONS (European Oncology Nursing Society).

In 2015 he was awarded the NHS Mentor / Coach of the year by the NHS London Leadership Academy.

Currently he is working clinically across North Central London supporting the national COVID vaccination programme. 

Sally Young Professional Nursing Committee Sally Young

Member for North West, January 2020 - December 2023

Sally was in the Territorial Army and ran the resuscitation department of a field hospital during a tour of duty in Iraq. She has also worked as an Emergency Nurse Practitioner and as a Resilience and Emergency Planning Manager. Currently Sally is employed as part of a corporate nurse team in a quality assurance role.


Tim Grace Tim Grace

Member for Northern, January 2020 - December 2023

Tim Grace works in a community mental health service as a Psychological Therapist, where he is a part of the Leadership Team. Though he is an independent prescriber, his main professional interests relate to working with people with voice-hearing experiences, service development, teaching, supervision and research. He has been involved in a number of research studies, though the most notable was working as part of a team whose study was published in The Lancet.

Tim’s clinical role involves providing highly specialist psychological interventions, including cognitive therapy and Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) for people troubled by their mental health. He provides clinical supervision for a range of professionals and has supervised postgraduate students on MSc university courses and postgraduate CBT courses in the Northern region.

However, the most rewarding aspect of his role is his direct clinical work; he feels very privileged to be in a position to help people whose lives have been affected by trauma and adversity, and has learned considerably from the people he has worked with. Tim also works together with people with lived experience of mental health problems in other settings, such as developing workshops, deliver training to staff, and service development. Clinical leadership is an interesting and important part of Tim’s role, as it allows him to influence patient care across services while still retaining the individual clinical work that he enjoys.

The RCN has been a part of Tim’s professional life for most of his career. Tim was lucky enough to spend 15 months on secondment with the RCN, which he reports was a valuable time which provided him with many skills and experiences to draw on in his NHS role. Being part of the RCN Professional Nursing Committee is a relatively new role, but one which he is already finding very rewarding, and in which he is looking forward to contributing to over the coming years.

When Tim is not working, he enjoys spending time with his family, and has a wide variety of interests, including travel, football (spectating), eating out and theatre. Recently he has tried his hand at growing his own fruit and vegetables, with varying degrees of success. Tim has also been learning Chinese for the past few years, though he thinks it will be many more years before he can claim to speak Chinese.
Martha Gill Martha Gill

Member for Scotland, January 2022 - December 2025

Martha currently works as a community island nurse in Orkney. This role covers community nursing, practice nursing and emergency care. She is a dual citizen and has lived and worked as a nurse in Scotland and Australia. Moving back to Australia after completing her nursing degree in Glasgow Caledonian University in 2010, Martha worked as a practice nurse and aged care nurse and in community palliative care. Completing a Post Graduate Certificate in General Practice Nursing from Flinders University in 2013. She was involved in union work while in Australia receiving an activism award from ANMF for her work in an enterprise bargaining agreement. 

In 2016 she moved with her husband and, then 2 year old, daughter from Canberra to Orkney to commence her current role. Since then she has been involved with the RCN as a steward sitting on her health board's area partnership forum. Martha's specific interest are in remote and rural health care delivery and service models and ensuring the voice of nursing is heard and advocated for at all times.


Mary Codling Mary Codling

Member for South East, January 2022 - December 2025

Mary has worked in the NHS for 40 years starting in Essex where as soon as she qualified she began her nursing career in the community. Mary later moved to Berkshire where she has worked across all localities of the county in various roles from community nursing for people with learning disabilities, managing community teams, as an associate lecturer, epilepsy nurse specialist, best interest assessor, independent nurse prescriber and currently as a primary healthcare lead for learning disabilities.

During her career Mary has undertaken further studies such as a Diploma in Counselling, a first degree in community studies, a Masters in Health Science and an MPhil in research which were instrumental in further enhancing her clinical skills. Alongside this, Mary is also a reviewer for the NIHR Dissemination Centre. Over the years Mary has published a number of papers sharing some of the innovative projects that have helped in developing services. In the mid 2000’s Mary was awarded the title of Queens Nurse for her contribution to practice and continues to work with the Queens Institute on nursing topics.

The RCN has always been part of Mary’s life having first become a member in 1980 and later as a South East representative on the Quality Improvement network. Over the years Mary has been instrumental in her role within the RCN linking it with her connectivity to members in practice, working with both to promote the profession of nursing and key areas of health. Mary’s special interests are epilepsy, health promotion, family dynamics, research, communication and consultations with patients, end of life care, education and person centred care.
Colin Baker

Colin Baker

Member for South West, June 2022 - December 2025

Originally from High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire, Colin has been working in the NHS for over 30 years and qualified as an RMN in 1996 at the Queen Elizabeth School of Nursing, Birmingham under project 2000. He has worked in Gloucestershire since 2000 and spent 17 years as an inpatient ward manager in various services for older persons mental health. In 2015 he became the Lead Nurse for Dementia and currently still holds this role as well as Community Service manager for the counties Dementia services. 

Colin has also worked in Learning disabilities, working age mental health services, PICU, eating disorders, substance misuse, care homes and hospice care. However, the majority of his career has been in Older persons mental health and specifically dementia services working closely with Physical health and voluntary services.

He completed his Honours Degree in 1998, the Mary Seacole Leadership Award in 2016 and the Older Persons Fellowship at Kings college London in 2019. He has led on falls prevention Quality Improvement strategies for people with dementia for most of his career and has presented this work at several national and international forums. He is also a member of the British Geriatric Society.

Colin has a career long involvement in unions and has held senior staff side roles for many years within Gloucestershire. Outside of work he has four children and is a keen mountaineer, hiker and runner as well as enjoying archery, fishing and art. He also has supported the charity Wellchild as part of their mountain safety team for their annual Three Peaks Challenge for several years.

Carolyn Middleton

Dr Carolyn Middleton MBE

Member for Wales, January 2022 - December 2025

Carolyn has worked as a nurse in NHS Wales for almost 44 years. Her career started as an Enrolled Nurse in a variety of surgical settings; after achieving her RN she worked as a pain management CNS, she has also held several senior divisional roles. The culmination of her career was being appointed as the Associate Director of Nursing at the  Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, a role that enabled her to gain wide ranging experience of working at a national level in Wales, linking closely with the CNO’s team and Health Education and Improvement Wales. Following semi-retirement Carolyn continues to work within the corporate nursing team. She has been an RCN member since the late 1970’s and has been an RCN Wales Board Member for the past year. 

Academically Carolyn achieved a first class honours degree, a masters degree in pain management and a professional doctorate in nursing from Cardiff University; Carolyn is an Independent prescriber. She has co-written and edited a clinical text book and has written over twenty practice related journal articles. Carolyn is currently a visiting professor at the University of South Wales and was awarded an MBE for services to Nursing in the Queens Birthday Honours list 2020. 

Carolyn's specific interests include medicines management and prescribing, professional development and regulation. Carolyn was a key member of the NMC revalidation work stream leading the largest UK pilot site. She has also been actively involved in the iterative processes undertaken by the NMC to review the English language and OSCE requirements for overseas nurses registering in the UK.

Raymond McMorrow

Raymond McMorrow FRCN

Member for West Midlands, January 2022 - December 2025

Ray commenced his nursing career as a Student in mental health branch at Goodmayes Hospital, in Ilford (then Essex) in 1978, and continued his education in learning disability at the Princess Marina Hospital, Northampton, completing that training in 1982.

He worked for two stints at St. Andrew’s Hospital Northampton between 1982-83 and 1987-89. In the interim period of 1983-87 he worked as a staff nurse in Bermuda where he became interested in the presentation of mental illness in the Black community and in relation to issues of transgenerational experiences. He brought back to the UK a commitment to culturally informed practice within hospital settings and the community. He also joined the RCN whilst in Bermuda, and retains an awareness of the importance of the organisation to its international members. During his second period at St Andrews he completed the EHB 603 course in Child Mental Health and his career in children’s nursing was commenced.

He has been a CPN in Solihull, Senior Community Nurse in Southern Derbyshire, Nurse Consultant for Community CAMHs at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, Designated Nurse for Safeguarding Children at Derby CCG and the Health Advisor at the NWG response unit for Child Sexual Exploitation and trafficking. In recent times Ray has returned to his care practice as a specialist Nurse in CAMHS with Midland Partnership NHS Trust.  Ray also serves as Safeguarding Advisor to Derby Cathedral, and to Freeman Collage in Sheffield.

He has completed an MA with the Tavistock Clinic in Psychodynamic Psychotherapy, has trained in a number of therapeutic approaches and currently practising Mentalization with young people at risk of suicide. Ray is particularly interested in the relationship between therapeutic approaches and new learning in neuro-development.

With the RCN he has been the Chair of the CYP Staying Healthy Forum, has ran numerous events at Congress, represented the RCN on RCPCH child protection committee, at the Independent inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation. He has advised the Academy of Royal Collages, Royal Collage of Psychiatry, NHE England, Public Health England, Football Association on Safeguarding children policy. He has worked with Brook, Childrens Society, and numerous other services in developing education tools for practitioners. Ray represents RCN on the MindEd consortium. Ray was made a Fellow of the RCN in 2021.

He also received a Commendation from the Chief Police Constable of Derbyshire for his support in protecting young people.

Your nursing support and student representatives

Nursing support workers and students also have representatives, who are elected by members in these categories. 

Tracie Culpitt Professional Nursing Committee Tracie Culpitt

Nursing Support Worker member, January 2022 - December 2025

Tracie works in Education and Organisational development at a NHS Trust as the lead for Quality Assurance. She currently works with bands 2-4, around apprenticeship standards. She also sits on the RCN Education and Clinical Governance Forums. As the Nursing Support Worker member of the committee, Tracie is a voice for the unregistered workforce. She is an ex-officio member of the RCN UK Nursing Support Workers committee.
Suzanne Davies

Suzanne Davies

Student member, January 2022 - December 2023

Suzanne is currently a Second Year Adult Nursing Student at Edge Hill University, having started her course in January 2021. Suzanne has been involved in the healthcare sector since she volunteered with a local care home in Liverpool at 16 years of age.

At 18, Suzanne moved to Swindon and started working in a care home as a carer and has always had the drive to achieve what she has put her mind to. Sadly, Suzanne suffered with a condition called Gestational Trophoblastic Disease after the birth of her daughter. However, she is raring to go to strive forward for an all inclusive nursing sector and is her year's Cohort Representative as well as starting her term as Student member of the RCN Professional Nursing Committee and ex-officio member of the RCN UK Students Committee Member, which is her proudest achievement.