Chief registrar scheme

The chief registrar scheme is the RCP's flagship work-based leadership programme for senior trainees. 

What we are doing

One of the key recommendations highlighted by the Future Hospital Commission report was the need to establish a new, senior leadership role for trainee doctors, which would focus on delivering high quality, safe care.

The RCP responded by establishing the chief registrar scheme, a new role that provides protected time for senior trainees to practice leadership and quality improvement while remaining in clinical practice. The role is supported by a bespoke 10-month development programme designed and delivered by the RCP. 

Chief registrars: 

  • provide a vital bridge between senior clinical leaders, managers and the wider trainee workforce
  • address local challenges and priorities around service improvement, education and training, engagement and morale, workforce and sustainability
  • collaborate across teams and traditional boundaries to deliver better outcomes for patients, teams and services, increasing efficiency and reducing costs. 

2019-20 recruitment 

Recruitment for the 2019-20 RCP chief registrar scheme has now closed. We are delighted to announce that this year there will be 71 chief registrars from 43 organisations enrolled onto the chief registrar scheme. 

Key criteria for recruitment:

  • Open to all physician and non-physician specialties
  • Trainees must be minimum ST4 level
  • Trainees must have a national training number
  • Posts must be for a minimum of 12 months
  • Trainees must have 40-50% time protected for chief registrar activities
  • Role may be done in programme or out of programme (training or experience). 

To register your interest in the chief registrar scheme as an NHS organisation or trainee, please email

Two important changes for 2019-20

In response to local demand, the RCP is expanding the chief registrar scheme to all physician and non-physician specialties in 2019-20. 

Recruiting organisations will also be asked to contribute towards the cost of each place on the chief registrar development programme. The cost per place is £3,750. 

2020-21 recruitment 

More information will follow soon. 

RCP development programme

The RCP development programme consists of five 2-day modules delivered between September 2019 and June 2020, from the RCP’s bases in either London or Liverpool.

Topics covered include:

  • change management
  • team culture and development
  • quality improvement
  • leadership
  • influencing
  • personal resilience. 

Each module consists of interactive learning and group discussion, with the opportunity to receive peer support and guidance during formal action learning sets. 

As a result of the development programme, chief registrars will: 

  • gain aptitude and confidence as senior leaders
  • achieve a deeper understanding of their own and others’ styles 
  • have the technical knowledge and skills to lead continuous quality improvement.

What we have produced

Information for NHS organisations interested in recruiting RCP chief registrars.
Information about the RCP's chief registrar scheme for trainees interested in applying.
The findings of a specially commissioned report produced by the Health Services Management Centre at the University of Birmingham, which set out to independently evaluate the impact of the Royal College of Physician's (RCP's) scheme on the chief registrars, the individuals and teams they work with, and their wider organisations.
A list of current participants in the chief registrar scheme, the RCP's flagship work-based leadership programme for senior trainees

Insights, learning and resources from current and former participants in the Royal College of Physicians' (RCP's) chief registrar scheme. 

Dr Ananthakrishnan Raghuram, consultant chest physician, outlines his experience of recruiting two chief registrars in Cheltenham General Hospital in the first year of the Future Hospital chief registrar scheme.

In this series of case studies, a selection of trusts share their experiences of joining the first cohort of the chief registrar scheme. 

Dr Zoe Burton provides an insight into what a typical week looks like for her as a chief registrar and anaesthetics trainee at Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust.