#WeNurses - Thursday 19th May 2022 8:30pm (GMT Standard Time) Nursing Unions

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A significantly visible part of nursing has, since the early 1900s, been nursing unions.

1916 saw the creation of the College of Nursing Ltd which in 1928 through receiving its royal charter became the Royal College of Nurses, becoming a trade union in 1977

1946 saw the merger of two separate unions forming the Confederation of Health Service Employees which merged once again in 1993 to form UNISON

Both unions say they are in place to support nurses by influencing policy related to nursing, UNISON has a direct link to the Labour party whereas the RCN works across parties. 

Owned by the RCN is RCNi, which refers to itself as "a life-long learning partner for nurses and the whole nursing team", boasting 11 publications and a wealth of content online both of which generate funds to support their content creation. 

So that's the history and state of play of the UK nursing unions, but where are we now?

Through the following questions, we aim to learn more about nursing unions value to nursing and value to you:

  • When and how did you become aware of unions as a nurse?
  • How did you decide if joining a union was something that was or wasn't right for you as a nurse?
  • What did the union say they would do for you as a nurse when you first encountered them?
  • Have unions managed to achieve what they said they would for you, and if they have, how have they?
  • Do you think, in the current political climate, unions can or do add value to nursing?
  • How do you think unions could add more value to nursing?
  • What are the misconceptions that nurses have about unions and how can they be overcome?
  • What have we not covered that you feel is relevant to this discussion on nursing unions?

There will also be two polls during the day of the tweetchat asking about your engagement level with unions and how effective you feel they are.

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Do join in, your views, ideas and shared experience adds real value to others on the chat.

Picture credit: Gov.UK

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 Chat Summary


Pre-chat poll results...

Chat Questions:

Chat Summary

What a fascinating chat, fascinating because there are clearly two value perceptions for nursing unions:

1. Those answering the polls, anonymously, didn't seem to reflect a high value of unions

2. Those on the chat conversely raved about their value

What does that mean... some fo the views on the chat may explain it.

Those on the chat talked about many of them being union members for their own protection as the legal and regulative sife of nursing is a "mine field" and it is good to have a level of confidence knowing their is professional support on hand, some shared that they had used this support and it was very effective. 

Possibly the difference between prechat poll voters and tweetchatters was that those on the chat were quite clear that you and nursing gets out of unions what nurses put in.

Maybe prechat poll voters don't actively engage and see unions as service they contribute to financially and feel that's all they need to do and consequently maybe don't have a more rounded understanding or perception of value.

Networking, RCN libraries and sense of togtherness were common values shared by quite a few on the chat.

Many experienced nurses commented that "it was just the done thing" to join a union and made them feel part of something as students when they were introduced to unions during freshers week and this practice appears to continue; Some shared that for the cost the are part of both unions. 

It was clear that a few senior union member staff were watching the chat and liking comments but not engaging, which was a shame, but we hope the chat archive below adds value to those looking to understand more about giving and getting value form the nursing unions.

Thanks to all those on the chat for being visible and helping others learn for your experiences.

 Post Chat Comments

After the chat you may like to add a reflection, add some questions, or maybe you've made a change from something you leant on the chat...well now you can with "post chat comments" below.

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 #WeNurses transcript

19 May 2022 20:30
@WeNurses #WeNurses not surprised, but again so many don't engage to know and understand. I was supporting someone at a formal meeting as part of my day job, in a union hadn't even crossed their mind to contact them for advice until I told them to
19 May 2022 20:30
@natslou28 @NurseCharr @WeNurses It’s likely we can’t- mature of the profession, high membership numbers too. Instead we need to look at how we effect change with conversations. Eminently possible if done in the right way. Nursing is not good at campaigning and activism, I say this controversially! #WeNurses
19 May 2022 20:31
@WeNurses Yes! I think so & as per my last answer, unions are only as strong as their membership. There’s such a significant impact that we are seeing in society given political decisions like the cost of living crisis etc. Nursing & politics go hand in hand. #WeNurses
19 May 2022 20:31
RT @WeNurses: #WeNurses > QUESTION 6 < "How do you think unions could add more value to nursing?" https://t.co/YsUY9HALOj
19 May 2022 20:31
RT @WeNurses: Nearly done... #WeNurses > QUESTION 7 < "What are the misconceptions that nurses have about unions and how can they be ov…
19 May 2022 20:31
@natslou28 @NurseCharr @WeNurses Nursing often campaigns by telling those in power they are wrong and bad. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never done something for someone that tells me that! We can make better, smarter arguments. Being political isn’t just protesting- it’s understanding power. #WeNurses
19 May 2022 20:32
RT @WeNurses: And finally... #WeNurses > QUESTION 8 < "What have we not covered that you feel is relevant to this discussion on nursing…
19 May 2022 20:32
@WeNurses I met a great friend (although we have never met face to face) via #WeNurses resulting in us holding a #twitchat on Assistant Practitioners. ??
19 May 2022 20:33
@WeNurses Bit of a no-brainer for me; I didnt even consider anything but @theRCN 26 (!) years ago and I never looked back. Had lots of opportunities to get directly involved and the whole by nurses for nurses thing def swayed me. #WeNurses
19 May 2022 20:36
@Nyrs_Emma They were here lurking and liking, but not vocal, shame they didn't feel they could join in, everyone is always welcome and everyone adds value here on #wenurses thank you for your input tonight :)
19 May 2022 20:37
@JessLSainsbury @WeNurses Have to agree with this one. Unions might not always agree, but that doesn't mean they can't work with and listen to each other, I definately feel there's a bit of RCN/Unison rivalry there- but ultimately they both want best for nurses #WeNurses
19 May 2022 20:41
@NurseCharr @natslou28 @WeNurses Government are engaging with some aspects of nursing activism though. You just have to make an argument they want to listen to, in a way that will be popular. @alisonleary1 is good at explaining this (wages from economic perspective) #WeNurses
19 May 2022 20:41
@WeNurses Making it easier to get involved- especially for members who don't want official roles. Also highlighting what nurses 'really' are, if the general public understands nursing more I think they'd be more 'behind' us #WeNurses
19 May 2022 20:45
@WeNurses Q2 Unison actively encouraged me to join as a student. I was a member for years. Then changed to RCN years after being an RN, as I was drawn by the professional arm of it and that it was more specific for #nurses which might help in the event of ftp if needed #WeNurses
19 May 2022 20:50
@WeNurses Q1. When I was a student. Union Reps were proactive and encouraged students to join up. Cheaper rates for students as I recall. #WeNurses
19 May 2022 20:59
@NurseCharr @WeNurses Thats what I plan on doing. I feel they need to know what the unions can offer them. I also like the idea of taking a cohort of them to RCN Congress next year. Would be a great experience for them. #WeNurses


 Total contributers: 8
 Total tweets: 16
 Total reach: 166,954

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