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Shaping health and healthcare

Our members and their patients are central to shaping the RCP’s ambitious vision for the best possible health and care for all. Throughout 2020 we continued to promote, advocate and campaign on the issues that we know matter most to them.

Our work in numbers

Our key achievements

From informing to influencing and engaging we increased the RCP’s profile dramatically during 2020. We focused on the issues impacting our members working at the heart of the response to COVID-19 and positioned the RCP as an authoritative voice.

Over 8,000 members and fellows responded to our series of seven surveys on the impact of COVID-19 on the workforce. Their responses helped us to gain direct insight into what was happening in hospitals and establish the issues we should be addressing on our members’ behalf. This led to successful campaigning to support doctors to do their jobs as safely as possible by highlighting issues around testing, accessing PPE and staff absence.

Very early in the pandemic we convened an expert update for doctors, with a high-profile panel including Professor Chris Whitty and other key medical leaders. And in July, the health secretary chose the RCP to host his keynote speech on the future of healthcare.

We focused on the issues impacting our members working at the heart of the response to COVID-19 and positioned the RCP as an authoritative voice

Our political relationships and influence in government were enhanced during 2020 with around 50 UK parliamentary mentions, many related to COVID-19. They covered a range of issues such as PPE – which was raised by the leader of the opposition Sir Keir Starmer MP among others – COVID-19 testing and how people were being discharged from hospital, as well as smoking cessation and air quality.

We also shone a light on the role of the international workforce – a long-term priority for us – quickly developing a ‘new deal’ for overseas staff. It has so far resulted in the exemption of NHS and social care staff from the international health surcharge.

Calls to our media team rose by 50% in 2020 and we logged almost 13,000 pieces of coverage. Highlights included five national newspaper front pages, and high-profile broadcast coverage such as BBC Breakfast and BBC News at 10.

On public health, we continued to support important campaigns aligned with our work. These included a call convened by Crisis to protect people sleeping rough during the winter and a campaign on the Environment Bill with the UK Health Alliance on Climate Change. Following our call for obesity to be recognised as a disease, we were proud to partner with over 100 organisations to sign a consensus statement calling for an end to the stigma surrounding obesity and for legislation to prevent weight-based discrimination. We continued to raise awareness, develop educational opportunities and influence for more focus on this area.

Towards the end of 2020 we established the Inequalities in Health Alliance (IHA) of over 80 organisations to campaign for a cross-government strategy to reduce health inequalities. Membership has grown rapidly since.

We positioned the RCP website at the heart of our COVID-19 digital response, quickly curating bespoke areas to share key information and guidance. Website page views increased to nearly 4 million – up by over 30% on 2019 – and RCP Player, our new streaming platform, hosted a growing number of webinars and events welcoming over 10,000 participants.

Our 'This Doctor Can' Twitter campaign became a powerful vehicle to celebrate the diversity of the RCP community

We focused on developing engagement across all RCP social media channels, including the launch of a new Instagram account, helping us to reach a younger demographic. Our social media audience grew by 25% to well over 130,000, and engagements increased by 40%. Our This Doctor Can Twitter campaign became a powerful vehicle to celebrate the diversity of the RCP community, promoting the stories of fellows and members from ethnic minority backgrounds throughout South Asian Heritage Month and Black History Month. Facebook Live Q&As saw our president reaching audiences in the thousands, particularly important in the early months of the pandemic.

Clinical Medicine and Future Healthcare Journal continued to grow their reputation as high-quality sources of clinical and thought leadership content. We developed our strategy to move more content online, with a focus on environmental and financial sustainability, while article submissions rose by 250% and readership doubled. A COVID-19 subject collection proved extremely popular and, alongside a new journal club series on Twitter, further elevated our medical publishing profile. Our membership magazine Commentary saw particularly vibrant engagement with our trainee members and included more diverse voices.

We published the RCP’s research strategy and launched a new research and innovation hub, enhancing our profile in this area. The online resource is a one-stop shop for supporting physicians to become more involved in research and develop their career.