Sue Norman, president of the UK Central Council for Nursing and Midwifery, has emerged as one of the favourites to replace Christine Hancock as general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing when she stands down next summer.

The UKCC is set to disappear next year as nurse regulation is revamped. Other front runners include Tom Bolger, assistant general secretary of the RCN; Sally Gooch, nursing director of Northampton Community trust who was a member of the Crown report team which recommend that nurses be given extended prescribing powers; and Alison Kitson, head of the RCN Institute.

The RCN said it would be advertising for Ms Hancock's replacement 'within a few weeks'.

The RCN president is paid over£90,000, one of the highest salaries in UK trade unionism.Mrs Hancock has been nominated to take over the unpaid post of president of the International Council of Nurses.