The Royal College of Nursing will hold an election “as soon as possible” to recruit a new council, as most current members have decided to stand down.

The RCN council lost a vote of no confidence at its emergency general meeting last week, which was called in response to a petition signed by more than 1,000 members who were angry at the way the union handled the NHS pay deal.

The vote of no confidence is advisory, but the RCN council said it recognises the “moral weight” of the vote. The vote was won by 78 per cent of the votes, but voter turnout was only 3.7 per cent of membership.

“Formal election processes will begin next week, with elections taking place as soon as possible and a new council taking up office on 1 January,” the council said in a statement.

Five out of 17 council members will not be standing down, three of whose terms end on 31 December anyway, one who is yet to take up office, and another who is in a non-voting position and joined the council in August.

HSJ revealed in July that the union misled its members over the three year Agenda for Change deal by advertising that staff would receive a minimum of a 3 per cent increase from July this year.

The union’s chief executive Janet Davis stepped down in August following a “mutual agreement” with the union.

Dame Donna Kinnair, acting RCN chief executive and general secretary, said: “The last two months have been some of the most challenging in the organisation’s history.”

“Our elected Council members have taken a difficult decision and have shown great personal integrity,” Dame Donna said.

“The college is already changing to ensure it engages the full breadth of its membership,” she added.