Discussions are underway at the Royal College of Nursing for a potential 2021 vote on the college re-joining the International Council of Nurses.
The RCN International Committee is liaising with RCN Council on ways it could consult members on the issue ahead of a possible vote at the RCN annual general meeting (AGM) next year.
The college left the ICN, a global network of more than 100 national nursing organisations, in 2013 over concerns about costs.
For more than three years, the We Are Global Nurses group – made up of RCN members – has been lobbying for the college to sign back up, and managed to secure a debate on the matter at RCN Congress in 2019.
RCN Council subsequently agreed to gather details of membership from the ICN, to ensure the latest information was available ready for a vote on re-joining.
The ICN International Committee met on 8 September to discuss the next steps. The committee will now make recommendations to RCN Council on how an engagement exercise with members could be held ahead of a potential vote on ICN membership at the 2021 AGM.
Nurse campaigners fighting for the move told Nursing Times they were “really pleased” that such developments had been made.
Previously, We Are Global Nurses had raised concerns after writing several letters to RCN leaders seeking updates but receiving no reply.
However, at the end of February the RCN had confirmed to the group that it was involved in an “ongoing dialogue” with the ICN.
In a joint statement, registered nurses Jeni Watts and Paul Jebb, who are leading the campaign for ICN membership, welcomed the latest update, although noted their “frustration” at how long the process had taken.
They said the events of 2020 had shown that there was “never a better time to have the strength, power and unity of a global alliance” and that few issues affecting nursing – such as pay and safe staffing – were unique to the UK.
“Ultimately it will be the decision of all RCN members if we re-join but our group will continue to raise awareness of the importance of global working, solidarity, and the good work of ICN,” they added.
“We have full confidence that RCN Council will ensure a meaningful conversation on global nursing and what we can gain and give through this global alliance.”
The ICN has taken a leading role in campaigning on behalf of nurses during the coronavirus pandemic on issues including personal protective equipment and abuse against nurses.
Its current chief executive, Howard Catton, was head of policy and international affairs at the RCN for 10 years before taking up a role with the ICN in 2016.