The Royal College of Nursing Council has lost a vote of no confidence at an emergency general meeting this afternoon sparked by anger over the union’s handling of the NHS pay deal.
The motion of no confidence was won by 78 per cent of votes on a turnout of 3.74 per cent of RCN members.
It is now expected members of the RCN Council will step down. The EGM was called in response to a petition signed by more than 1,000 members.
HSJ revealed in July that the nursing union, which has more than 400,000 members, had misled nurses over the three-year NHS pay deal by suggesting staff would receive a minimum of a three per cent pay increase this year.
RCN chief executive Janet Davies stepped down in August in the wake of a backlash from members.
There was anger at the EGM meeting today after acting chief executive Dame Donna Kinnair claimed the motion of no confidence was being politically driven and she claimed to have learned the political affiliations of 600 supporters of the motion.
The result is unlikely to lead to the pay deal being re-opened but could pave the way for a tougher stance by the RCN over future negotiations.
An independent review published today of how the RCN handled the pay deal and represented it to members concluded lead negotiator Josie Irwin had a “conflict of interest” and was biased in favour of the deal.
They also found the college’s council, executive team, trade union council and general membership were not informed about the details and impact of the pay deal agreed with NHS Employers and the government earlier this year.
Electoral Reform Services was commissioned by the RCN to investigate the process and its communication with members over the pay deal. They found nurses voted in favour of the NHS pay deal after being given “inaccurate” information by the RCN which they said was under pressure to “sell” the offer to nurses.
The report said: ”Alternate options to accepting the deal were not made, but substituted with the assertion that this was the best deal in the current economic client under a government of austerity.
“ERS believes that exploring the detail of alternate options to not accepting the proposed deal, in its current form, would have enabled decision makers to weigh up the merits of the draft framework against these alternatives.
“Since the lead negotiator was responsible for presenting the framework to decision makers and maintained during interview that it was the best deal available at the current time, ERS believes a conflict of interest exists in their role of presenting and aiding communication of the deal.
“There did not appear to be sufficient checks and balances in place for this role, or fact-checking of the detail to ensure accurate and objective information.”