About us

This page outlines the main activities and organisation of the College.

Role of the College

Principal objects as stated in the Charter, are:

"The encouragement of the study and the advancement of the science and practice of obstetrics and gynaecology" (extract from the Royal Charter, granted 21 March 1947).

To fulfil this role, the RCOG:

  • improves and maintains proper standards in the practice of obstetrics and gynaecology for the benefit of the public
  • produces evidence-based guidelines for appropriate practice and procedures
  • publishes patient information, books and journals
  • provides a range of educational tools in all aspects of obstetrics and gynaecology
  • promotes study and research into obstetrics and gynaecology and publishes the results
  • conducts examinations for doctors wishing to specialise
  • maintains a register of its Fellows and Members and those undertaking its continuing professional development programme
  • reviews the suitability of training programmes for membership, specialist registration and subspecialties
  • advises the Government and other public bodies on matters of health care relating to the specialty
  • provides statements and publishes reports on issues of public importance relevant to obstetrics and gynaecology
  • organises postgraduate and scientific meetings, congresses and courses in the UK and overseas
  • maintains a library and historical collection of records
  • works in partnership with other agencies to increase awareness of and contribute to the improvement of sexual and reproductive health care worldwide, in particular to reduce maternal and neonatal mortality and morbidity
  • supports other organisations having similar objectives to those of the College.

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Equal Opportunities

  1. Statement of Intent
    The Council, Officers and management of the RCOG are committed to the principles of equal opportunities in every aspect of the work of the College. The Council will ensure, by putting in place appropriate standards and effective audit, that no individual or group is treated more or less favourably than others on grounds of ethnic origin, nationality, age, disability, gender, sexual orientation, race or religion.

    It is the express intention of the Council to comply, completely, with all legislation related to equal opportunities and it regards this policy as the start of an important exercise not just to protect the College but to ensure that the culture, philosophy and processes within the organisation are free from such bias.

  2. Main Principles
    All College activities will be managed in a way that they are free from bias. Those in positions of authority to make decisions regarding appointments to committees, the examiners panel, staff posts etc, will receive appropriate training. The appointment processes will be monitored with regard to ethnic origin, nationality, age, disability, gender, sexual orientation, race or religion. The College will ensure that Council, Officers, members of College committees and staff are aware of this policy and their responsibility to abide by it. The College will not tolerate acts of unlawful discrimination and all incidences of such alleged behaviour will be fully investigated and appropriate action taken.

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The governing body of the College is Council, which comprises six Honorary Officers, elected Fellows and Members, a co-opted Member , Chair of the Consumers Forumand a representative from the Royal College of Midwives and the Faculty of Family Planning and Reproductive Health Care, RCOG.

The six Honorary Officers are the President, Senior Vice President, and four Vice Presidents, who are elected by Council for a maximum of three years.

Elections for membership of Council are held annually and the term of office is three years, with eligibility for a further three.

Council meets six times a year on Saturdays and on the Friday afternoons preceding the Saturdays. Trustees of the College Council decide general policy. Council approval is required on all documents or minutes produced by College Boards, Committees or working parties.

When the College was founded, Memorandum and Articles of Association were drawn up and are now incorporated into the Royal Charter. These documents govern the way the College is managed.

Presidents of the RCOG, 1929-2011

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Organisations based within the College

The Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH)

The FSRH was founded in 1993 and continues to flourish with over 9,900 Members from a wide variety of backgrounds. For further information please visit the Faculty's website at: www.fsrh.org

National Collaborating Centre for Women’s and Children’s Health (NCC-WCH)

The National Collaborating Centre for Women's and Children's Health was established in 2001 by a consortium of Partner Organisations working in the field of women's and children's health, with the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists as host of the centre.

The NCC-WCHis a multi-disciplinary, enthusiastic and friendly research team. It includes epidemiologists, clinicians and medical informatics specialists. The aim is to develop, promote and support clinical effectiveness issues related to women's and children's health. For further information, please visit the NCC-WCH website.

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History of the College

In the mid 17th century doctors were beginning to take over the role of the largely unqualified midwives but there was no antenatal care, no gynaecological surgery and obstetrics consisted only of the process of delivering the child.

By 1518 a College of Physicians was established, and a Guild of Surgeons was formed in 1540. These two bodies, together with the Society of Apothecaries (1815) and the universities began to control medical education and the examination of physicians and surgeons.

Obstetrics and gynaecology were recognised as specialties in the mid 19th century and it then became clear that they could only take their place as disciplines in their own right with the creation of a separate College.

Despite formidable difficulties the British College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists was founded in September 1929 by Professor William Blair-Bell and Sir William Fletcher Shaw. Thereafter the care and safety of women in childbirth improved, standards of healthcare delivery for women in hospitals were properly assessed, and obstetrics and gynaecology became a recognised part of the final examination for medical students.

The College was granted a ‘Royal’ title by His Majesty King George VI in 1938 and the Royal Charter was awarded in 1947, after delay caused by the second world war.

Initially the College was housed at 58 Queen Anne Street but when more space was required, a Crown Land site was obtained in Regent’s Park. The foundation stone of the new building was laid in 1957 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, Patron of the College. The new College building was completed in 1960 and formally opened by Her Majesty The Queen in July of that year.

Today, there are over 12,000 members of the College of whom over 50% are international.

The Coat of Arms

Coat of Arms of the RCOG

Arms: The blue and black fields of the shield indicate day and night. This conveys to the mind something that is happening always, day and night. The Mullet, or Star, represents the Natal Star of Bethlehem.

Crest: The setting sun is symbolic of the rest that comes after labour and the crescent moon, light (borrowed from the sun) in the darkness for those whose work continues into the night.

Supporters: The figure on the right represents Aesculapius, the classical God of healing, medicine and health. His emblem (or wand of office) is a staff around which is coiled a serpent. The staff and serpent is a very ancient symbol of healing. He carries the crescent moon in his right hand because that is a female symbol. The figure on the left represents a woman carrying a staff surmounted by the crux ansata, symbol of life, the giving of life, etc. The staff is green, the colour of Spring, the season of gestation in Nature. Both figures have white robes and white sandals to express the idea of hygiene. Below the shield are pomegranates, symbols of fertility, prolificacy and the persistence of life.

Motto: Super Ardua (Let us overcome our difficulties)

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