The campaign for a new president and deputy president of the Royal College of Nursing has been officially paused, after it was confirmed that election rules had been “breached”.
A postal ballot was set to open on 1 September and successful candidates were due to be announced on 1 October, but the RCN has now said a new timeline will be made.
“Evidence has been provided that confirms our rules have been breached”
In what was described by the union as a “difficult decision”, the RCN said the pausing of the campaign and opening of voting had come after “complaints” had been raised concerning the elections and that subsequent evidence had confirmed rules had been breached.
In a statement published on its website, the college stressed it was “absolutely vital that our trade union elections meet statutory obligations”.
It highlighted that the process “must comply with the RCN’s own election rules as set out in the policy and process document, which is approved by RCN Council”.
“Our overriding responsibility is to ensure that all the candidates in our trade union elections are able to campaign equally and fairly,” it added.
The statement continued: “Regretfully, complaints have been raised with us concerning the upcoming president and deputy president elections.
“Evidence has been provided that confirms our rules have been breached. The difficult decision has therefore been taken to pause campaigning and the opening of voting in these elections.”
The RCN added that it would “use this time to ensure all the issues reported by members and staff are addressed”.
“We will be keeping the membership fully updated via the RCN website and a new timeline will be published as soon as it is confirmed,” the statement said.
The news was first announced on Twitter on Thursday afternoon via the RCN Governance account, which said: “Owing to complaints that have been raised, the difficult decision has been made to pause campaigning and the opening of voting in the RCN president and deputy president elections” – complete with a link to the RCN’s official statement.
This sparked a backlash from members on the social media site, who said they were angered that the news had been delivered in the public domain and that it had not been communicated directly with members first.
As well as posting the information on our website this afternoon and sharing on social media, an email will be sent to members tomorrow. https://t.co/Vb7pp7R56p
— The RCN (@theRCN) August 13, 2020
Later last night, the RCN’s main Twitter account then confirmed an email would be sent to members on Friday.
The Tweet said: “As well as posting the information on our website this afternoon and sharing on social media, an email will be sent to members tomorrow.”
The nominees for the roles were only announced by the college last week, as reported by Nursing Times.
Candidates include current president Professor Anne-Marie Rafferty who has again been nominated for the top job alongside current deputy president Yvonne Coghill.
Nursing Times contacted the RCN for more information and comment about the specific details of the complaints, but it declined to respond.