Our governance

Charter and bye-laws

The RCP's main constitutional document is the Royal Charter of 1518, endorsed by a subsequent Act of Parliament (later Acts have also related to the College). We are governed by our bye-laws and regulations.

Byelaws (updated September 2022)

Board of Trustees

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

  • 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 (one)
  • senior officers of the RCP (ex officio – five)
  • members nominated from Council (three)
  • lay members appointed by the Board of Trustees (up to six)
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 51 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.

Committees and boards

Council is also supported by a wide range of sub-committees and boards.

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.

RCP Council (July 2024)

Senior 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.

Meet the senior officers


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 directorate is overseen by a designated senior officer and an executive director.

Meet the executive leadership team

Annual reports

Our annual reports highlight our achievements, outline both our income and expenditure and include a brief review of our performance against our purpose and objectives.

Educating 510 340Px

RCP annual report 2022: Reconnecting and rebuilding

We began 2022 with the launch of our new strategy focused on the three key strategic priorities of educating, improving and influencing.


RCP annual report 2021: Educating, improving and influencing

2021 has been a year of recovery and restructure for the RCP.

Annual Report 2020

RCP annual report 2020: Supporting our members in a year like no other

This short annual review looks back on the RCP’s key achievements in 2020, a year like no other.

Fellows Ceremony Attendees

RCP annual report 2019: The voice of our members

This year’s annual report, The voice of our members, outlines the RCP’s key achievements in 2019 and presents our financial statements for the year ended 31 December 2019.

Annual Report 2018 Cover

RCP Annual report 2018: 500 years of medicine

This year’s annual report and accounts, 500 years of medicine, presents the RCP’s key achievements in 2018 as well as outlining our plans for 2019.

RCP Annual Report 2017 Cover

RCP Annual report 2017: Shaping the future

This year’s annual report and accounts, Shaping the future, details the RCP’s key achievements in 2017, including how we improved care for patients, and led and supported our members.

RCP Annual Report 2016 Cover

RCP Annual report 2016: Supporting doctors to improve care

This year our annual report and review have been combined into one document, Supporting doctors to improve care. Find out about the RCP’s key achievements in 2016, including how we improved care for patients, and led and supported our members.

Annual Report 2015 Cover

RCP Annual report 2015

2015 was another positive year for the RCP; our total income was £40.7 million – £1 million higher than the previous year.

Annual Report 2014 Cover

RCP Annual Report 2014

2014 was another positive year for the RCP. We continued to grow our membership, activities and income – with 6% more fellows, 14% more members, 11% more registered trainees and 26% more CPD registrants than 2 years ago.