Delegates voted overwhelmingly that, in the light of the Macpherson report into the death of Stephen Lawrence, 'issues related to the institutional racism within the RCN and the healthcare systems of the UK' should be properly addressed. But this came only after widespread anger among delegates at the defeat of a motion that the union should 'promote activities aimed at involving ethnic minorities in the RCN'.

They also voted to lobby employers to enforce a policy of 'zero tolerance of violence towards nurses and other healthcare workers'. They demanded new guidelines for nurses who want to work beyond retirement age and for managers who want to employ them.

Delegates condemned the 'government's quick-fix approach' to tackling waiting lists, and unanimously backed a motion to lobby for research and services for male victims of rape.