Our governance

Charter and bye-laws

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

Byelaws (updated September 2022)

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:

  • 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.
RCP Council (as June 2023)

Committees and boards

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

Our committees

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.


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.

Our people

Annual reports and college documents

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.

Annual reports and college documents