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Trade Union Committee

Meet the committee responsible for our trade union function

The Trade Union Committee works to ensure that the RCN develops as a modern, progressive trade union – one that makes a positive difference to the working lives of nursing staff. The committee is accountable to the RCN Council. It works on the council’s behalf to make decisions on all the RCN’s trade union functions and activities.

RCN members can log in to see information from previous Trade Union Committee meetings. You can also find out more about the role and remit of the RCN Trade Union Committee by reading the Terms of Reference.

Your chair and vice chair

Fair Pay for Nursing placard image

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

Denise Kelly Denise Kelly

Member for Northern Ireland, January 2022 - December 2025

Denise has 29 years’ experience in health and social care. She started her career as an auxiliary nurse in 1992 and began her registered nurse training in 1995 at The Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast. Her many roles have included junior and senior staff nurse, ward manager and night sister, across intensive care, coronary care and patient flow, among other areas. She currently works as a full time senior clinical nurse coordinator on the Hospital At Night team.

Denise has undertaken postgraduate study in Health Service Management, Cardiology Nursing and Facilitation and Practice Development. She graduated with a postgraduate qualification in Strategic Workforce Planning in March 2020, and is currently undertaking a postgraduate taught study in non-medical prescribing. She is due to graduate in May 2022.

Due to this extensive experience, Denise understands the challenges facing RCN members. She is proud to be a dedicated RCN member, accredited Steward, health and safety representative and activist. Denise is also the current chair of the RCN’s Northern Branch.

Her primary focus is on the pay campaign and safe staffing, especially following successful industrial action undertaken by RCN members in Northern Ireland. Denise is passionate about the trade union work of the RCN, while also recognising the importance of its professional nursing work.

Denise received the RCN Award of Merit in 2020 for exceptional service to members.
Jackie Davies Jackie Davies

Member for Wales, January 2020 - December 2023

As a registered nurse, Jackie has a clinical professional background in mental health nursing and forensic psychiatry. An experienced Trade Unionist, Jackie has an interest in healthcare law, clinical negligence and employment law. Jackie graduated in law with an LLB (Hons) in 2006. In 2014 Jackie also obtained a Masters Degree in Healthcare Law and Ethics from Swansea University. Jackie is a board member with the Royal College of Nursing Wales Board, she has been a branch official within the RCN Glamorgan branch for several years holding various positions such as Chair, Treasurer, secretary and more recently Communications officer.

Jackie is currently an independent member of the Board of Swansea Bay University Health Board, a public appointment she has held since 2017. She is Chair of the Swansea Bay Armed Forces Forum and Chair of the Swansea Bay Organ Donation Committee.

Your regional representatives

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

Helen Oatham Helen Oatham

Member for Eastern, January 2022 - December 2025

Helen is a registered mental health nurse with over 25 years’ experience in primary and secondary care and secure services. She is currently governance lead for an Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) service – a partnership between the NHS and other organisations.

Helen has been an RCN steward since 2007. As well as providing individual member support, she sits on her trust’s Staff Side committee. Within the RCN, Helen has held various positions on the Branch Executive and is currently chair of the RCN’s Norfolk Branch. Prior to being appointed to the Trade Union Committee, she served for six years on the Eastern Region Board, ultimately as Vice-Chair.

Helen is an active speaker at the RCN Congress. She is also heavily involved in campaign activities, notably speaking to MPs in Parliament about staffing and pay.
Karen Sanders

Member for London, January 2022 - December 2025 

Karen has over 35 years’ nursing experience. Prior to becoming a Senior Lecturer at London South Bank University in the Adult Nursing and Midwifery Studies Department, Karen specialised in Adult Intensive Care and Neurosciences nursing and held Management, Practice Development and Education roles. In her present role Karen works with post–registration nurses and pre-registration nursing students. Karen is an RCN Learning Rep and served for two terms as Chair of the UK Learning Representatives Committee from January 2015 to December 2018.
Roaqah Shaher Roaqah Shaher

Member for Northern, January 2022 - December 2025

Roaqah has worked for South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in Middlesbrough since she qualified as an Adult Nurse in 2004. She is currently a Clinical Sister in the Cardiothoracic High Dependency Unit and also has experience as a Ward Manager in General Medicine.

Roaqah was accredited as a RCN Steward in 2007 and joined the Joint Partnership Committee soon after in 2008. After being elected to Vice Chair of the Staff Side Committee for 2 years, she was elected to Staff Side Chair in 2015 and have remained in that position since. Within the RCN Tees Valley Branch she has held the position of Vice Chair and Secretary. She has been the Treasurer of the branch for the last 3 years.


Mike Travis Mike Travis

Member for North West, January 2022 - December 2025

Mike is a Surgical Nurse within the Intensive Care and High Dependency Units at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool, where he has worked for over 35 years. In his time at Alder Hey, he has also held roles as Risk Manager and Manual Handling Co-Ordinator. Mike has been actively involved with the RCN ever since becoming an RCN Steward in 1980. He became a Safety Rep two years later and has gone on to serve in a range of capacities including three full terms on RCN Council, and as a member of the Congress Agenda Committee.


Tobias Kunkel Tobias Kunkel

Member for Scotland, September 2022 - December 2023

Tobias has more than 20 years nursing experience working in several large UK and EU hospital trusts, and is currently employed by NHS Lothian in Edinburgh as a Senior Nurse Practitioner in the Minor Injuries Unit. He is a passionate campaigner for safeguarding and improving the health, safety and wellbeing of staff and patients. A member of the RCN since 2001, Tobias is currently Treasurer of the Lothian and Borders branch committee. He is dual accredited as an RCN Steward and Safety Rep, and is a member of the Pan-Lothian Health and Safety Committee and the Joint Staffside Committee. Tobias believes in the importance of building strong relationships, and is driven by a deep sense of fairness, and will bring this approach to his time on the committee.


Liz Jeremiah

Member for South East, January 2020 - December 2023

Liz qualified in 1999 as an Adult Nurse, since then she has been working full-time at Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust. Her clinical background is in Emergency Medicine and Critical Care. Although Liz has been a member of the RCN since she trained, in the past two years she has begun to take on more active roles – alongside her election to the Committee, she is also a work-place Steward and Branch Chair. Liz is passionate about staff well-being and is especially interested in combatting workplace bullying and harassment. She works closely with her Trust’s ‘Freedom to Speak Up’ guardian service.

Emma Hallam

Member for South West, July 2022 - December 2023

Emma has been a registered adult nurse since 1994. She has a varied clinical background , having worked in acute and critical care settings, as well as in the community, working in Continuing Care. As a ‘military wife’, she has moved and worked across the UK. 

Since 2011, she has worked at North Bristol NHS Trust (NBT). Her most recent patient facing role was as a Neurology Research Nurse. However, much of her time supporting clinical trials in 2020, was spend in Covid-19 vaccine and treatments, with her many incredible colleagues within the Research and Development department. As well as a return (a period of pandemic redeployment) to Intensive Care Nursing. 

She has been an RCN safety rep since 2017, and a steward since 2019. She is now the full time RCN lead representative at NBT.


A new appointment process will be opened shortly for this vacancy.


Anne Penny

Member for Yorkshire and the Humber, August 2020 - December 2023

Anne is a registered nurse with 45 years' experience working in front line services and has been an RCN steward for the last 16 years. She served on the RCN UK Stewards Committee from 2016 to 2020 and has been a member of the RCN's Yorkshire & the Humber Board since 2012.

Your nursing support and student representatives

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

Dennis Greer Dennis Greer

Nursing Support Worker member, January 2022 - December 2025

Dennis is a Senior Nursing Assistant in the Rapid Response Team and a Healthcare Practitioner in a GP practice at Omagh Hospital and primary care complex. He served on the Nursing Support Workers Committee from 2014-2020, including as Vice-Chair from 2016 and is very active within his branch as the RCN South Western Branch Secretary and as an RCN Network lead for Nursing Support Workers in Northern Ireland. Dennis is a Steward and is currently undertaking training as a Safety Rep.
Alisha Brown Alisha Brown

Student member, January 2022 - December 2023

Alisha is an Adult and Mental Health Nursing student, and has been an RCN Student Ambassador since 2020. Through social media, she has found her voice and passion for activism, using her creativity to get involved with the RCN’s campaigns. Alisha aims to empower student members to be more active within the RCN and increase member engagement. 

Alisha received the commendation for the RCN's Student Ambassador of the Year award in 2021.