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Royal College of Nursing: Wikis


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Royal College of Nursing
Founded 1916
Members 395,000 (2007)
Country United Kingdom
Affiliation International Council of Nurses
Key people Maura Buchanan, President
Peter Carter, General Secretary
Office location London, England, UK

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) is a membership organisation with over 395,000 members in the United Kingdom. It was founded in 1916, receiving its Royal Charter in 1928, Queen Elizabeth II is the patron. Most members are registered nurses but student nurses and healthcare assistants are also admitted.

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.



RCN HQ, Cavendish Square London

The headquarters are at 20 Cavendish Square, London which was built as a substantial townhouse in 1729. The building was refronted and incorporated by architect Edwin Cooper in 1930 into his re-development of the corner site with Henrietta Place. It has five floors, including the basement, and dormers in the attic. Its architecture includes classical Portland stone facing, a cut-string staircase with wrought iron balustrade, a stairwell with its ceiling painted in trompe l'oeil-artists. The office was the residence of H. H. Asquith. It is a grade II listed building.[1] The RCN also 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.

RCN libraries

The RCN has 4 libraries, one in each country of the United Kingdom. They 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.

RCN Publishing Company

The RCN Publishing Company produces RCN Bulletin, a fortnightly member publication, and Nursing Standard, which is available through subscription. The RCN publishes a wide range of papers and policy documents.

RCN Institute

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. In addition four distance learning programmes of study are currently offered in order to meet this need.


On the internet the RCN's website is at There is also a Facebook group for RCN members who have an account on the social networking site. It can only be viewed if you have an account and by searching for "Royal College of Nursing Members".


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 29 Council members: two elected by each of the 12 geographical sections (Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and 9 English), two elected by student members (ANS), 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 Sandra James; the current Vice Chair is Robert Sowney.

The current Council members are:


  • 1940-1942 M Jones
  • 1942-1944 E E P MacManus
  • 1944-1946 M F Hughes
  • 1946-1948 G V L Hillyers
  • 1948-1950 Louisa Wilkinson
  • 1950-1952 Lucy Duff-Grant
  • 1952-1954 L J Ottley
  • 1954-1956 S C Bovill
  • 1956-1958 G M Godden
  • 1958-1960 M J Marriott

General Secretaries

RCN General Secretary Peter Carter at an RCN conference, March 2009


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.

List of RCN Fellows

Honorary Fellows


  1. ^ "20 Cavendish Square". Images of England. Retrieved 2006-06-30.  


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

External links



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