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Our governance

Information outlining how the RCP is run.

Annual general meeting and presidential election

There is an annual general meeting (AGM) of fellows, known as Comitia, which is held on a date set by Council (usually early September). The annual presidential election is held on the first Monday after Palm Sunday, as required by an Act of Parliament.

Board of Trustees

The Board of Trustees is the RCP’s governing body. It meets four times a year and is responsible for:

  • defining RCP policy, agreeing the RCP business plan and monitoring the progress of RCP affairs
  • the custody of the RCP, ensuring effective management and administration.

It has the authority to carry out the RCP’s charitable responsibilities and can delegate to the RCP’s boards and committees. It works closely and liaises with the Council but ultimately, all decisions (apart from changes to the bye-laws and regulations) are either taken by, or on behalf of, the Board of Trustees and reported to the fellows at the AGM.

The Board of Trustees comprises:

  • a lay chair
  • senior officers of the RCP (ex officio – six)
  • members nominated from Council 
  • lay members appointed by the Board of Trustees.


Council meets six times a year, and develops RCP policy in relation to professional and clinical matters. It gives authority to RCP statements and publications and elections to the fellowship and membership as well as of RCP officers.

Council also considers and acts on current issues affecting professional practice and standards. Its membership totals 49 and includes the senior officers, directly-elected councillors, and other representatives of those involved in the RCP's work.

There are two boards reporting to Council:

  • Strategy executive — to which five management boards report, each focussing on a strategic theme
  • Medical Specialties Board — this brings together representatives of the specialties.

RCP officers

The senior officers of the RCP (president, registrar, treasurer, clinical vice president, academic vice president, and vice president for education and training) are all trustees of the RCP and are elected by the fellows or, in the case of the registrar and treasurer, appointed following an open process. Their involvement in the RCP’s main boards and committees ensures that consideration is always given to our Charter and bye-laws, and the views of the membership are represented.


Education, examination and maintaining standards in medical practice are at the core of the RCP. Our censors oversee this vital work.

Before the registration of doctors was centralised in 1858, you needed a licence from the RCP to practise medicine in London. The censors determined who was qualified to practise and could prosecute those who weren’t. They also settled disputes between practitioners, and contributed to important medical debates of their day.

Today, at least four censors and the senior censor (also vice president of education and training) are elected from within the fellowship of the RCP, and remain in the role for three years. The censors continue to act as guardians of the values and reputation of the RCP. They provide wise counsel and support for the senior officers and the wider workings of the RCP, focusing on physician education, training and assessment, wellbeing and equality, diversity and inclusivity.

They investigate professional offences by members and fellows, and in 2018 they developed and launched the RCP500 Code of Conduct, in honour of our 500th anniversary.

You can find out more about the censors in our new display outside the Censors’ Room at the RCP’s London office near Regent’s Park. If the room itself is not in use, feel free to take a look inside to view the 17th-century oak-panelled interior.


The day-to-day operation of the RCP is delegated to the chief executive who is accountable to the Board of Trustees. The management and staff are ultimately accountable to the chief executive, and each RCP department is overseen by a designated senior officer (as described above) and a senior manager known as an executive director.