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Publishing links to third-party websites on the RCOG site

As a major part of the RCOG’s work involves collaborating with external bodies and offering guidance to interested parties, the RCOG may wish to place links to external websites on the RCOG website. Also, the RCOG is occasionally asked by external organisations to publish links to their websites on the RCOG website. This document sets out the decision-making criteria that will be applied in these circumstances.

This policy is concerned only with links from the RCOG website. It does not govern wider RCOG endorsement of documents, guidelines or policies developed by other organisations.

Policy

Passive endorsement

In general, the RCOG will not endorse websites or other web-­based materials that have been developed without its participation. However, as part of the RCOG’s mission is to be a learning and advisory organisation, the placement of links to external websites is recommended, especially if no endorsement of the external organisation is specified.

Silent support and external link publication

Although the RCOG does not usually endorse an external organisation or its website content, by publishing a link to an external site the College accepts that it is passively offering support to that organisation.

Selection

Consideration will be given to which external organisations are permitted to have their details published on the RCOG site. The following criteria must be fulfilled:

  • The organisation must have no conflict of interest, or perceived conflict of interest, with the RCOG’s mission
  • Publication of links to the organisation’s website must not damage the brand or reputation of the RCOG

The organisation should also fulfil at least one of the following criteria:

  • Be an aligned business in a complementary field, for example another medical college or advocate of women’s health
  • Be a healthcare or charitable organisation
  • Offer services or advice that support or complement the RCOG’s goals
  • Aim to improve women’s health

In addition to the above, consideration should be given to the RCOG’s policy on working with industry, in particular the following criteria:

‘The RCOG has a policy not to have industry partnerships, relationships or match-funding bids with organisations that are not aligned with its values and charitable objects. The conflict sectors include (but are not limited to): tobacco and alcohol companies; gaming; companies that aggressively market breast-milk substitute products; any company or organisation acting in opposition to the RCOG’s mission of “improving women’s health, everywhere”. We expect industry partners to be forthcoming about new relationships that may undermine or conflict with our activities.’

Refusal

The RCOG retains the right to refuse to publish website addresses or links to external organisations for any reason. The RCOG will refuse to link to organisations which:

  • Encourage beliefs or behaviours not linked to scientific research or evidence
  • Hold and publish views or practices counter to the mission and aims of the RCOG
  • Promote products likely to be considered contentious by health professionals
  • Promote any of the following:
    • Formula milk and associated equipment (bottles, teats, etc.)
    • Dummies/pacifiers
    • Commercial tissue-harvesting operations, including stem-­cell removal
    • Commercial, non-statutory child adoption agencies
    • Commercial, non-statutory egg, sperm or organ donation operations
    • Alcohol
    • Commercial female genital cosmetic surgery
    • Tobacco products
    • Foods and beverages that are deemed to be unhealthy, such as fizzy/sugary drinks, foods containing high levels of trans-fats, etc.

Please note that this list is not exhaustive and that the RCOG will not link to any organisation if it believes the association would damage the brand or reputation of the RCOG.

Responsibility

The initial decision whether to link to an external website should be made by whichever function within the College is most relevant.

The ultimate decision lies with the Executive Director of External Affairs.

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