The Former General Secretary and Chief Executive of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Professor Pat Cullen has confirmed she will be seeking the nomination to stand as Sinn Féin candidate in the Westminster election for the Fermanagh and South Tyrone constituency.

Pat Cullen said: “I will be seeking the nomination to stand for Sinn Féin in Fermanagh & South Tyrone in the upcoming Westminster election.

“I have been in contact with my employers at the Royal College of Nursing to inform them that I have allowed my name to go forward to a selection convention being held in the constituency this week.

“It has been the honour of my life to have served in the RCN and to provide leadership every day to hundreds of thousands of hardworking nurses and healthcare staff who always prioritise the delivery of high-quality care to patients.

“After much consideration, I have decided that now is the right time for me to step forward in to the political arena to champion the issues and opportunities for the community I love, and that is what I am fully determined to do.

“This election is an opportunity to vote for a new and better future.

“It is also an opportunity to support better funding for our public services and to reject years of cruel Tory cuts which have targeted frontline services, particularly health.

“By voting for Sinn Féin, people can endorse strong leadership, positive change and a commitment to work for all.” 

RCN confirmed Professor Cullen has stepped down from her role to seek election to parliament in the forthcoming general election.

Professor Nicola Ranger, the RCN’s current Chief Nursing Officer and Deputy General Secretary and Chief Executive, will take on responsibility as Acting RCN General Secretary and Chief Executive in the interim.

Meanwhile, the RCN is seeking applicants for its permanent General Secretary and Chief Executive.

Paul Vaughan, Chair of RCN Council, said: “Pat has been a tremendous leader for our profession and put the College on a journey to a brighter future. She has been fearless in rooting out longstanding cultural issues internally and speaking truth to power in the health service and politics alike."

Professor Pat Cullen said: “This was the hardest decision to make, and we have achieved so much in 3 very different and difficult years. I hope my legacy here will be to have helped the nursing profession use its voice and campaign for change, for ourselves and patients. I owe RCN members a debt of gratitude.”

Professor Nicola Ranger said: “The forthcoming 5 weeks are an opportunity for the College to advocate for nursing as part of the election campaign. We will ensure every party and candidate knows the value of nursing and RCN Congress next week is the ideal opportunity for that. Pat’s vision for the return of the RCN Institute of Nursing Excellence will be a lasting legacy as it provides support to many thousands of nursing staff. She has progressed the profession in so many ways and we’re thankful for her incredible hard work to advance the cause of the College."