RCN position on COVID-19

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) presents an ongoing global challenge.  

As a royal college and professional trade union representing around 465,000 members, patient and public safety will always be a central priority. On behalf of our members, we have a number of expectations of employers and governments across the UK.  The RCN has called for current evidence on the airborne transmission of COVID-19 embedded within the UK government’s current campaign to ‘Stop COVID-19 hanging around' to be recognised within health and care settings and Infection Prevention and Control guidance.  

The RCN acknowledges emerging evidence on the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 via the air and the need to broaden risk assessment based on this.

Everywhere nursing staff are working they must have the resources they need – including, where appropriate, personal protective equipment for their health, safety and wellbeing. The RCN expects employers to discharge their legal duties to manage risks posed to their employees and protect them from these in the workplace wherever that may be.  The RCN continues to work with UK governments and other experts about issues specific to nursing staff. Members can come to us for support should any need arise and use the RCN Risk Assessment toolkit to support discussions locally with employers on any health and safety in their workplace.

The RCN expects employers to ensure that members do not suffer any financial detriment or loss of pay for being away from work on account of public safety rules and legislation. 

Following calls from trade unions, the UK government has already extended statutory sick pay from day one to those who take time off sick due to the virus. 

The RCN is clear that essential health and care needs of patients must always be undertaken by appropriately trained staff.

Work is ongoing to understand any potential implications of emerging variants of concerns and the impact on health and care services and health and care professionals alike.


On behalf of its members and in the interests of public safety, the Royal College of Nursing is seeking urgent clarity and assurances from government and health authorities across the UK that there will be:

  • Priority COVID-19 testing for all health care professionals.
  • Access to adequate supplies of personal protective equipment and hand sanitiser for all nursing, midwifery, social care and student nurse staff for use at the point of care.
  • Full occupational sick pay paid from day one for all our members, with no detriment, regardless of where they work.
  • Provision from government and employers to ensure all nursing staff can care for their children without a loss of income.
  • Clarity on the measures taken to protect pregnant and vulnerable nursing staff.
  • Stringent measures in place to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of staff by addressing fatigue, hydration and issues of abuse towards staff.

Help us build a better future for nursing

We are determined to build a better future for the nursing profession after the COVID-19 pandemic.
female nurse in hospital corridor