Dame Donna Kinnair appointed permanent RCN chief executive

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has announced the appointment of Dame Donna Kinnair as chief executive and general secretary.

Dame Donna took up the post in an acting capacity in August 2018 after previous chief executive Janet Davies stepped down from the role following widespread anger over the College’s communication of the pay deal in England.  

Her permanent appointment was made from a competitive selection process led by the RCN Council, the RCN have said, and she will take up the post with immediate effect.

Dame Donna joined the RCN as head of nursing in 2015. Prior to this, she was clinical director of emergency medicine at Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust, and executive director of nursing at the Southeast London Cluster Board.  

She has also held the role of director of commissioning and nursing at the London Borough of Southwark and Southwark PCT. While there, she advised on the prime minister’s commission on the future of nursing and midwifery in 2010.  

Commenting on her appointment, Dame Donna said: ‘It is quite simply the best job in nursing and the greatest privilege to continue serving the RCN’s members at the highest level. My every action will seek to boost their collective voice and leave others in no doubt at the true value of a cutting-edge and respected nursing workforce. 

‘In every country of the UK, our profession and those we care for are experiencing serious challenges that I am determined to continue addressing, building on my work of the last seven months. Every member of the RCN must see an organisation that they are proud to be part of and I see it as my duty to give them that faith as we rise to this challenge together.’

RCN chair of Council Sue Warner said she was ‘delighted’ with the appointment.

She added: ‘These are challenging times for the nursing profession and Donna will bring unparalleled experience to our organisation. She has provided sterling leadership while carrying out the role in an acting capacity for the last eight months, which guided the College through a period of transition and helped rebuild the confidence of its membership.  

‘The RCN is undertaking important campaigns to deliver safe staffing levels and a major increase in funding to train and retain the next generation of nurses. I believe Donna’s experience and drive makes her uniquely qualified to deliver these objectives.’ 

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