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RCN Structure

Our structure

The RCN is a trade union and professional body for nursing staff.

The Royal College of Nursing of the United Kingdom was established in 1916 and incorporated by Royal Charter in 1928. Since 1977 the RCN has also been registered as a trade union.

Governance structure

RCN Council is responsible for governing the RCN. It works with its committees and country and regional boards to:

  • set strategy and direction in line with our overall purpose
  • ensure accountability to our members by monitoring performance and ensuring effective compliance controls are in place
  • ensure that we adhere to our Royal Charter, Standing Orders, regulations and policies
  • ensure effective engagement with RCN members and other stakeholders

Changes to RCN’s Council are now in place following recommendations made in the Council Review. To increase the involvement of members in RCN decision-making two new Council committees - the Professional Nursing and Trade Union committees - started their work on 1 January 2018. 

Find out more about how the RCN is governed.

Executive structure

The RCN's Executive Team is responsible for delivering the RCN's strategic and operational plans.

The team consists of eight senior members of staff, including the General Secretary & Chief Executive, directors of the three operational directorates and four country directors.

Find out more about the RCN's Executive Team.

The RCN's offices

The RCN has offices in Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and nine England regions. These offices support the activities of local RCN branches, as well as learning representatives, stewards and safety representatives in their area.

Other members of the RCN Group


RCNi is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Royal College of Nursing.

The company's aim is to provide an essential nursing resource, inspiring and informing the whole nursing team to deliver best practice and exceptional patient care.

Products include journals, books, recruitment fairs and annual nursing awards.

RCN Foundation

The RCN Foundation is an independent charity that supports the needs of nurses, midwives and health care assistants as well as nursing students.

As a registered charity it helps nursing staff to develop their practice so that they can provide the best possible advice, support and care to patients. It achieves this by awarding funded projectseducation grants and research and practice development grants.

Through hardship funding it helps members of the nursing team in times of need, providing the extra support they may need to get their lives back on track.