Royal College of Nursing

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Royal College of Nursing
Full name Royal College of Nursing
Founded 1916
Members 432,000+ (2015)
Affiliation International Council of Nurses
Key people Cecilia Anim, President
Janet Davies, General Secretary
Michael Brown, Chair of Council
David Harding-Price, Honorary Treasurer
Office location London, United Kingdom
Country United Kingdom

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) is a union and a membership organisation with over 432,000 members in the United Kingdom. It was founded in 1916, receiving its royal charter in 1928. Queen Elizabeth II is the patron. The majority of members are registered nurses however student nurses and healthcare assistants are also members.

The RCN describes its mission as representing nurses and nursing, promoting excellence in practice and shaping health policies. It has a network of stewards, safety representatives and union learning representatives as well as advice services for members. Services include a main library in London and regional libraries around the country. The RCN Institute also provides courses for nurses.


In 1916 the College of Nursing Ltd was founded with 34 members as a professional organisation for trained nurses.[1] A Royal Charter was granted in 1928 and the organisation became the College of Nursing.[2] In 1939 the organisation name was changed to the Royal College of Nursing. Since 1977 the RCN has also been registered as a trade union.[3]

Centenary year[edit]

2016 is the Centenary year of the Royal College of Nursing where is it celebrating 100 years since it was founded. It is undertaking a number of activities to celebrate the centenary including a photography competition and special events.[4]


RCN HQ, Cavendish Square London


The headquarters are at 20 Cavendish Square, London, a grade II listed building.[5] which was built as a substantial townhouse in 1729 and became the residence of British Prime Minister H. H. Asquith. The building was refronted and incorporated by architect Edwin Cooper in 1930 into his re-development of the corner site with Henrietta Place.

Regional Offices[edit]

The RCN has offices throughout the UK. In England regional offices are located in; Birmingham, Bolton, Bury St Edmunds, Croydon, Exeter, Newbury, Nottingham, Leeds, and Sunderland. The Northern Ireland office is in Belfast. The Scottish offices are located in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow; and the Welsh offices are located in Cardiff and Conwy.[citation needed]


The RCN is governed by its Council. Council members are guardians/trustees of the organisation's mission and values on behalf of the members. They are also charity trustees and carry legal duties and responsibilities laid down by charity law. The Council is responsible for the overall governance of the RCN, and has ultimate responsibility for the sustainability and the finances of the organisation.

The Council is made up of 31 Council members: two elected by each of the 12 geographical sections (Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and 9 English), two elected by student members (RCN Students), two elected by HCA members (RCN HCA), the RCN President and Deputy President, elected by all members, and the Chair of RCN Congress (non-voting), who is elected by Congress voting entities. The RCN's General Secretary is appointed by Council. Council members are not paid to serve on Council but voluntarily give up their time to serve the RCN and its members, in their governance role. The current Council Chair is Michael Brown, the Vice Chair is Lors Alford.


Previous RCN President, Andrea Spyropoulos, at the 2010 AGM


The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) is a union and a membership organisation with over 435,000 members.

RCN Students[edit]

The Royal College of Nursing membership allows Nursing students to join at reduced fees. Following the announcement of the removal of NHS Student bursaries in November 2015 the RCN initiated it's support through the campaign Nursing counts[6]


RCN holds events nationwide throughout the year. The events range from branch events, educational to it's annual Congress and AGM.

RCN Congress and AGM[edit]

Every year the RCN undertakes a RCN Congress and AGM with the view of facilitating members to meet to learn, develop and share nursing practice and where members help to inform the RCN agenda and influence nursing and health policy through debate. In 2016 Congress will be in Glasgow.[7]

RCN libraries[edit]

The RCN Library claims to be Europe's largest nursing-specific collection.[8] The RCN has four libraries, one in each country of the United Kingdom. The libraries are located in Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and London. The RCN's archives are in Edinburgh. The London library, which is now known as the UK Library, was founded in 1921, and its contents include 60,000 volumes, 500 videos and 400 current periodicals on nursing and related subjects. Special collections include the Historical Collection and the RCN Steinberg Collection of Nursing Research, the latter of which comprises over 1,000 nursing theses and dissertations. Set up in 1974, the RCN Steinberg Collection of Nursing Research contains a selection of influential nursing theses and dissertations from the early 1950s to the present day.[citation needed]

Heritage centre[edit]

In London The library is called the 'RCN Library and heritage centre'.[8]

RCN Institute[edit]

The RCN Institute is part of the Royal College of Nursing and is responsible for providing nurses with an opportunity to participate in higher and continuing education, research and practice development. The RCN Institute is expected to provide education across the United Kingdom including a portfolio of experiential clinical, primary care and political leadership development workshops and programmes across the UK.[citation needed]


The RCN awards fellowships bestowed for exceptional contributions to nursing. Honorary Fellowships can be granted by RCN Council to those who are unable to become an RCN member, either because they are from overseas or because they work outside the nursing profession. Fellows and Honorary Fellows are entitled to the postnomial FRCN.[9]

RCN Publications[edit]

RCN Publishing produces RCN Bulletin, a monthly member publication, and Nursing Standard, which is available through subscription and on news stands. It also publishes a range of journals for specialist nurses: Cancer Nursing Practice, Emergency Nurse, Learning Disability Practice, Mental Health Practice, Nursing Children and Young People, Nursing Management, Nursing Older People, Nurse Researcher, and Primary Health Care.

RCNi Rebranding[edit]

In March 2015 RCN Publishing undertook a rebranding exercise and began using RCNi.

RCNi Nurse Awards[edit]

Formerly the Nursing Standard Nurse Awards, the annual RCNi Nurse Awards celebrates nursing in different categories. The Awards take place in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. There is a category for Nursing Students.[10]


The RCN is currently running the 'Nursing Counts' campaign.[11] The Nursing Counts campaign is a broad campign encompassing fair pay and conditions and the removal of the NHS student bursary which will be removed from 2017.

Previous campaigns have been - What if?[12] & 'Nursing the Future' 2004[13]

RCN Foundation[edit]

On 1 April 2010 the RCN announced the launch of the RCN Foundation – an independent charity to support nursing and improve the health and wellbeing of the public. The new foundation will undertake a number of activities including giving grants for improving nursing practice through activities that, for example, support the development of clinical practice and improve the quality and standard of patient care and experience.


  1. ^ "About us: our history". RCN. Retrieved 27 July 2014. 
  2. ^ "About us: our constitutional documents". RCN. Retrieved 27 July 2014. 
  3. ^ "About us: our structure". RCN. Retrieved 27 July 2014. 
  4. ^ "#RCN100". The Royal College of Nursing. Retrieved 2016-02-08. 
  5. ^ "20 Cavendish Square". Images of England. Retrieved 2006-06-30. 
  6. ^ "Nursing Counts". The Royal College of Nursing. Retrieved 2016-02-09. 
  7. ^ "About". 2015-07-31. Retrieved 2016-02-08. 
  8. ^ a b  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  9. ^ RCN Award of Merit and RCN Fellowship
  10. ^ Hoddinott, John (2015-04-14). "Nursing Student Award". Retrieved 2016-02-09. 
  11. ^ "Nursing Counts". The Royal College of Nursing. Retrieved 2016-02-08. 
  12. ^ "What If". Retrieved 2016-02-08. 
  13. ^ "Campaigns > Re-branding Nursing (RCNi)". Retrieved 2016-02-08. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Bowman, Gerald (1967). The Lamp and the Book: The Story of the RCN 1916-1966. London: Queen Anne Press. 

External links[edit]