Dispatch from Melbourne: A Significant Loss for International Council of Nurses?May 20, 2013
By Shawn Kennedy, AJN editor-in-chief
So this week I’ve traveled halfway across the world to Melbourne, Australia, where the International Council of Nurses (ICN) is holding its 25th quadrennial meeting. Nearly 4,000 nurses from 134 countries are expected to attend. There’s a mind-boggling number of concurrent sessions—there must be about 60 sessions each hour, offering glimpses into various international health problems and solutions from nurses.
A river of nurses. Sunday morning was the opening plenary. I left my hotel at 8:30 am to walk to the convention center along the Yarra River, which runs through this very metropolitan city. I began as a fairly solitary walker, but was soon joined by other walkers, mostly women, all carrying the same ICN2013 conference bag, all walking purposefully in the same direction. We were mostly middle-aged and dressed in sensible walking shoes and “business casual” clothes, and must have looked like a well-dressed walking club to those biking and strolling past. I was quickly reminded that, for all our differences in language and customs, we’re all pretty much alike.
Missing this year from the Congress of Nursing Representatives, however, is the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), which represents nurses from the United Kingdom. The RCN was suspended for failing to pay all of its dues and now is expected to withdraw membership from the ICN. In April, over 91% of members attending (539 of 588 present) an “extraordinary general meeting” voted for withdrawal. The precipitating issue for the RCN was the breakdown of negotiations to reduce its annual dues payment, which is currently about 600,000 pounds (about 1.8 pounds per member). Though a number of RCN members forcefully dissented from this decision, this dues payment was, according to the RCN, “unsustainable.” The question that no one is asking is, “Will any other members follow suit?”
More to come . . .