Health Insight August 2002: More problems at the Royal College of Nursing
chairman of the council of the Royal College of Nursing, Pat Bottrill,
resigned recently in a most bizarre fashion. While chairing a meeting of
the council several members failed to return after a coffee break.
Commenting on their absence Mrs Bottrill used the phrase ‘ten little
niggers’, after the Agatha Christie novel in which a group of people are
picked off one by one. This was deemed to be racially unacceptable by some
members of the council. What was equally surprising was that the reason
for Mrs Bottrill’s resignation was shrouded in secrecy to members of the
RCN, until a regional evening paper ran the story. It has angered many
nurses who are unhappy with the culture of secrecy that has grown up at
the college. Peggy Pryer, an RCN member for almost thirty years, said, ‘We
are in such a state and it is extremely saddening. It is impossible to
find anything out. We have asked lots of questions but we aren’t being
told anything.’ A spokesman for the RCN admitted that the union was
going through some uncomfortable changes, but denied that growing dissent
was being ignored or suppressed.
At the centre of the storm is Beverley Malone, an American academic appointed to revolutionise the union last year. Her popularity has been eroded by members opposed to the appointment of a non-NHS outsider, and a succession of embarrassments. A new website, set up by nurses for each other, shows how highly passions are running. ‘Unless the council and the rest of the administration get their heads out of the sand and become transparent in their dealings, any shred of credibility left will go out of the window,’ one nurse wrote.
Source: The Times 17th August
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