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We’re influencing the way that healthcare is designed and delivered. Here are some highlights of our work in 2021.

The pandemic continued to underscore the crucial importance of strategic communications and engagement for our influencing work. We communicated regularly with our members to keep them informed of the latest guidance and developments. Regular surveys allowed us to advocate for physicians as they navigated this extraordinary period. With increased activity and output across all areas, we made significant progress against our key influencing priorities in health inequalities, workforce, integration and research.

Our work in numbers

Our key achievements

Our policy priorities

Workforce and integration

We focused much energy on influencing the new Health and Care Bill. We mobilised the support of over 100 health and care organisations for an amendment advocating for regular, independently verified workforce projections. The amendment was supported by cross-party MPs and peers as well as the Health and Social Care Select Committee. The House of Lords voted to pass the amendment twice with significant margins, but unfortunately the House of Commons – which has the final say – voted to ultimately reject it. Although it did not make it into the final legislation, this campaign marked a significant moment for our work to support long-term workforce planning for the NHS and social care.

Our Double or quits report led to increasing calls for expanding the number of medical school places, while the annual physician census furnished parliamentarians and others with insightful data on the state of the medical workforce.

Health inequalities

Convened by the RCP in 2019, the Inequalities in Health Alliance gathered momentum in 2021 with 200 member organisations now signed up to campaign for a cross-government strategy. A letter to the prime minister was signed by over 90, a high-profile webinar was held in June, and a day of action held in September involving actor Simon Callow.

We worked with other key royal colleges and think tanks to secure amendments to the Health and Care Bill on health inequalities. We also worked with NHS England’s new health inequalities team and supported work on obesity, the climate emergency and alcohol harm.


Following the launch of our online research and innovation hub in 2020, we continued to work with partners to make more research in the NHS a reality. After welcoming the government’s vision for clinical research in March, in July we held the first ‘Research for all’ summit, bringing together NIHR, DHSC, GMC, NHS England and UKRD.

Our influence helped to push the clinical research agenda in a number of ways in 2021:

  • the UK government published Saving and improving lives: the future of UK clinical research delivery with priorities encompassing calls made by the RCP to embed research in the NHS
  • the DHSC confirmed funding for the clinician researcher credential, managed by NIHR and RCP on behalf of AoMRC
  • the CQC strategy recognised the importance of research activity, following representations by RCP and other organisations
  • the Health and Care Act 2022 includes new duties for NHS bodies to facilitate clinical research.

We continued to influence wider healthcare safety and improvement through contributing to external consultations such as with All Party Parliamentary Groups and by being key members of NHS boards for acute deterioration, medicines safety, and the National Clinical Audit and Patient Outcomes Programme.

Media and engagement

The RCP’s profile continued to grow with 11,000+ appearances in the media in 2021. Data from our series of COVID-19 surveys, which received over 8,800 responses from members, led to a proliferation of stories and surfacing of issues across digital, print and broadcast media.

Digital engagement increased with website visits up by 10% to 4,233,020, and we grew our following on social media by 11% to 144,849 across Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.

Employee comms and engagement were hugely important during this unsettling period for our staff. Our HR and internal comms teams led key activities including Core Brief meetings of senior managers, all staff meetings and our weekly email bulletin Parklife Weekly.


We moved our journals Clinical Medicine and Future Healthcare Journal fully online – a major project resulting in environmental benefits as well as financial savings. Submissions remained high and engagement continued to increase with average monthly downloads from both journals reaching almost 470,000. Our membership magazine Commentary featured interviews with leading figures, including Dame Sally Davies, Professor Mala Rao and Professor Chris Whitty, and a focus on SAS doctors and PAs.

To support our members and the wider health community in delivering the best care and practice, we published over 30 reports, toolkits and guidelines. Key publications included guidance on eating and drinking difficulties, effective modern ward rounds and the results of the 2020 consultant census. Almost 60 years after the RCP’s first report on tobacco, a new report on smoking and health reviewed the UK’s progress in reducing smoking prevalence and set out recommendations for the forthcoming Tobacco Control Plan.

Our work with NHS GIRFT programme leaders enabled the sharing of lessons learnt from the GIRFT reports as well as building a platform for implementation with physician leaders.

Promoting medicine and the RCP

We hosted a number of high-profile events in The Spine which helped to cement our new role as a key player in Liverpool. This included the prestigious Harveian Oration, which was given by Professor Sir Jonathan Van-Tam and focused on respiratory virus vaccines, therapeutics and public health policy.

Our museums team developed a highly effective digital programme on the history of medicine and promoting public awareness of the RCP. We held 45 virtual events, tours and talks, including four events run in collaboration with external partners and 17 tours. Our RCP Unseen online exhibition received a 4/5-star review in The Times.