Royal College of Nursing announces new president

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has elected its new president, with Dr Denise Chaffer set to take over the position from Professor Dame Anne Marie Rafferty CBE FRCN, in July.

The role of the RCN President is ambassadorial, with the incumbent representing the nursing profession and the College to its members, stakeholders and the public.

Denise was one of three candidates who ran for the role, and will serve from 1 July 2021 through to 31 December 2022.

Currently the Director of Safety and Learning at NHS Resolution, Denise is also a registered nurse and a midwife by background.

According to the RCN, she has previously held a number of director of nursing roles, including for two acute trusts, as well as for a primary care commissioning organisation and for the NHS England North West London region.

Denise said the news was a “huge honour” and that she hopes to use the role to “influence national policy”.

In her statement, she said: “It’s a huge honour to be elected President of the RCN, to help amplify the voice of nursing and promote the value of our highly skilled profession. I would like to thank everyone who voted for me, those that nominated me, as well as the candidates that stood alongside me.

“Nursing staff have been at the forefront of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic – the past 18 months have been challenging for the whole of the health service – yet at the same time we have seen the value of nursing and how nursing touches so many lives.

“I’m committed to using this role to influence national policy on what is needed to recruit and retain nursing staff within the profession, using research evidence to demonstrate the need for fair pay, safe staffing, fairer processes and increased wellbeing support. I’m also determined to help drive improvements in equality, diversity and inclusion and ensure all areas of nursing care are valued and recognised.

“It is a privilege to have this opportunity and I’m looking forward to focusing on how the professional and trade union arms of the RCN work together to support all members to be the best they can be.”

On her predecessor, who had been in the role since January 2019, she added: “Finally, I would like to extend my thanks and recognition to Professor Dame Anne Marie Rafferty CBE FRCN for all the work she has done as outgoing President of the RCN.”