Members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) the world’s largest trade union of nurses – have appointed a gay man to one of its most influential posts for the first time.

Jason Warriner, a sexual health nurse from London, has been elected to serve as chairman of the RCN’s annual Congress, where thousands of nurses gather to debate the future policies of the organisation.

Mr Warriner, a clinical nurse manager for sexual health and HIV at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, will serve a two year term of office, which will see him preside over RCN Congress, a week long annual event for nurses across the UK.

He is a veteran campaigner working on projects to support lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) staff in the workplace and is also a founder member of the College’s LGBT group, RCN OUT!

Since its founding in 2002, the group has been involved in a range of work which has helped to improve the working lives of members and the delivery of care for patients and clients who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

Speaking about his election, Mr Warriner said: “Over the years I have challenged homophobia within the RCN, nursing and health care and see my election as a major move forward on the equality and diversity front.

“As the first gay man to be elected to this position, I hope to be a role model for members of the LGBT community by promoting rights, challenging unacceptable behaviour and demonstrating leadership skills to enable and develop others.

“This role will also give me an excellent opportunity to show how nurses can challenge and influence the political agenda effectively, resulting in positive changes. On a personal level I see it as privilege to be elected as Chair of RCN Congress and will continue to promote the rights of both nurses and patients alongside ensuring that the LGBT voice is recognised and valued.”