Our role in shaping health policy

The Royal College of Physicians' (RCP's) mission is to drive improvements in health and healthcare. Our members are at the heart of the health service, working in hospitals across the UK.

What we are doing

We draw on our members' knowledge and expertise to develop evidence-based policy in key areas of healthcare. We champion medical professionalism and leadership, promote person-centred care and drive improvements in clinical practice.

Our 2020 policy priorities

At its September meeting, the RCP Council agreed our policy and campaigns priorities for 2020. These are based on our 2019 policy and campaigns priorities, which we produced with the help of officers, committees, and staff across the RCP, as well as members and fellows.

Make sure the UK has a multiprofessional medical workforce that meets the needs of patients

  • Promote the doubling of medical school places by developing and presenting the business case.
  • Make sure the NHS remains focused on improving staff retention, particularly by improving workforce health and wellbeing, and inclusion.
  • Work with the UK government and the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges to increase the MTI to 2,000 places and establish an MTI for countries other than DfID/World Bank priorities.
  • Make sure the regulation of physician associates proceeds, and set out and secure agreement for the process to grant them prescribing rights.

Make sure UK health policy is led by the latest research and innovation

  • Continue to call for protected time for trainees and consultants for research, from quality improvement to epidemiology and clinical trials.
  • Work with NHS, academic and industry partners to increase the research activity of NHS provider organisations, particularly in areas of greatest need.
  • Support physicians to develop a greater understanding of the impact new technology and Big Data has on their role, particularly genomics and artificial intelligence, including through education.

Make sure the UK takes an integrated and people-centred approach to health

  • Promote our principles for what ‘good’ clinically-led integration looks like in an ageing society where multiple long term conditions are becoming the norm.
  • Support doctors to engage with and shape their local integration model.
  • Continue to call for increased investment in public health and social care.
  • Promote principles of best practice in end of life care, including through education, and work with governments to secure better provision.

Make sure UK policy reduces health inequalities by focusing on prevention

  • Continue to support work on specific public health issues, particularly air pollution, alcohol, illegal drugs, obesity, sexual health and tobacco.
  • Work with the advisory group on reducing inequalities in health and wellbeing to begin delivering the RCP strategy for reducing health inequalities.

Working with government

The RCP regularly communicates and meets with government, parliamentarians and stakeholders to embed quality improvement across all health policy. We work across Westminster, Wales and the European Union.

Our activity includes:

  • providing MPs, peers and civil servants with independent advice to improve policy that is being developed and implemented
  • attending political party conferences, holding an annual peers' breakfast, and a series of parliamentary events every year to engage parliamentarians in our policy priorities
  • regularly preparing briefings and case studies, and highlighting key statistics for parliamentary debates and speeches.

Read our latest consultation responses

Working with our members

We encourage the RCP's members and fellows to engage with decision makers in order to highlight the challenges facing health and social care, and the impact of these on patient safety and staff morale.

Our members and fellows know the reality of working in an NHS which is underfunded, underdoctored and overstretched, and your campaigning activity can help to achieve real change.

Find out how to support RCP policy

What we have produced

The NHS Long Term Plan (LTP) published in 2019 set out significant structural changes in England with th

RCP Cymru Wales has published its response to the joint draft health and social care workforce strategy from Health Education and Improvement Wales (HEIW) and Social Care Wales, calling for an ambitious, patient centred and clinically led approach, accompanied by a clear action plan.

Delivering research for all is a new project supported by the RCP that is calling for every clinician working in the NHS to become research active.
The RCP is polling its fellows and members on whether or not there should be a change in the law to permit assisted dying.
The Outpatients: the future – adding value through sustainability report seeks to re-evaluate the purpose of outpatient care and align those objectives with modern-day living and expectations.
The 'Talking about dying' report offers advice for any doctor on holding conversations with patients after the diagnosis of a progressive or terminal condition.
'NHS reality check: Update 2018' returns to last year's key report and once again gives over 1,500 doctors working in the NHS the chance to discuss their experiences of delivering care in the UK health service.

At the end of 2017, Health Education England, NHS England, NHS Improvement, Public Health England, the Care Quality Commission, NICE and the Department of Health published a draft health and care workforce strategy for consultation.

The RCP’s four-point plan outlines the profession’s key calls for the next government, to ensure that the NHS is adequately resourced.