Our status as a charity and what it means in practice

We have heard from fellows and members that we need to take time to explain why the College is a charity, what this means in relation to governance, and the difference between the Council and Board of Trustees. 

Please do contact engage@rcoa.ac.uk if you have a query; it’s important that we get this right and that you have enough information presented in the right way for you. 

The College is a charity and we need to comply with charity law 

As a charity we must comply with rules set by our regulator the Charity Commission. The College has a responsibility to deliver the charitable objects that are set out in the Charter and Ordinances. The College seeks to achieve this through its long-term strategy, which is reviewed every five years. 

Why is the College a charity? And what are the benefits? 

All Royal Medical College are charities, and we have been a Charity since our inception. Our status as a charity is mirrored in our Royal Charter and our principal aim is to ensure patient care through the maintenance of standards in anaesthesia, critical care and pain medicine.  

Being a charity brings financial benefits that other organisations cannot access, such as different taxation levels, preferential rates, and the ability to raise funds. Combined with broader financial management and income stream, this keeps our membership fees as low as possible.  

We are not changing our status as a charity. 

What are the Council, and the Board of Trustees? 

We already have in place two governing bodies: a Council and Board of Trustees. They are two separate bodies but they are made up of largely the same people. This was a mistake; it was not the intention for this to be the case and is counter to the intentions expressed at the time of making the changes.     

A full composition and links to bios can be seen here , and summarised below:

The Council leads the specialty

The Council leads the specialty and takes decisions on professional issues. The Council influences areas like exams, learning, development, research, accreditations for departments, and wellbeing for the specialty.  

There are 39 members of Council. 24 are elected and these are in the box to the left in the image above. These are voting positions. They comprise:

  • 20 Consultant members
  • 2 SAS Doctors
  • 2 Anaesthetists/Fellows in Training 

In addition, there are a further 15 members who do not have voting rights but whose voice is an important part of the debate and influence key decisions. They comprise:

  • 2 Anaesthetists/Fellows in Training (positions that the College wants to add into the elected voting categories as above)
  • 1 representative from the British Journal of Anaesthesia
  • 1 representative from the Centre for Perioperative Care
  • 1 Welsh Board member
  • 1 Scottish Board member
  • 1 Ireland Board member
  • 1 Regional Advisor representative
  • 1 ACSA representative
  • 1 Clinical Quality Advisor
  • 1 representative from the Association of Anaesthetists
  • 1 representative from RCoA exams
  • 2 Faculty Deans (FICM and FPM) and
  • 1 patient representative

Together, the 39 members of Council provide representation and lead the profession. - The role of Council is wide-ranging and includes areas such as (but not limited to):

  • leading the profession for and on behalf of the College membership
  • designing, proposing and delivering the strategy and its programmes of work
  • be the primary home of engagement with government and the NHS in England and the devolved nations on issues including health improvements, workforce planning and patient safety.

Elected Council members should:

  • set standards for the specialties, and provide assessment of those standards
  • lead the delivery of ever safer care for patients
  • represent and advocate for members
  • play a ‘hands-on’ role in leading projects and activities
  • support interactions with networks of similar relevant organisations (e.g. HEE, GMC, DHSC, AoMRC, etc).

The Board of Trustees manages the College 

The Board has ultimate responsibility for managing the College as a charity and directing how it is run. 

Trustees must:

  • ensure the charity is carrying out its public benefit purpose
  • ensure the charity is complying with governing documents and the law
  • always act in the best interests of the charity
  • ensure accountability
  • manage resources responsibly
  • always act with reasonable care and skill.

The Board of Trustees, with 29 members, is made up of all 24 elected Council members, plus the 2 Faculty Deans and 3 members appointed following an application process for their specific knowledge and expertise needed to run the ‘business’ aspects of the College.