Nursing union plans cut in legal advisers

The Royal College of Nursing is embarking on its first panel review which will reduce the number of its legal advisers.

At present the union, which represents 320,000 nurses, uses 12 firms for mainly personal injury, employment and professional advice.

But it is understood that after the review this will be reduced to about seven or eight firms. The Royal College of Nursing's principle legal adviser is Thompsons, a firm that claims to be the largest personal injury firm in the UK.

The panel also includes Taylor Joynson Garrett, Blake Lapthorn, Veale Wasbrough and Pannone & Partners.

A tender document has already been drawn up with the help of an external consultant, however it has yet to be sent out to prospective candidates.

The tender process is set to begin by the end of the year with the final selection expected to be made in April 2000.

The union has a 15 strong legal department, headed by Richard Bernhard, director of legal services. But it is believed there will not be any cuts internally as part of the review.