Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists


RCOG encourages the study and advancement of the science and practice of obstetrics and gynaecology. They do this through postgraduate medical education and training development, and the publication of clinical guidelines and reports on aspects of the specialty and service provision. The RCOG Global Health forum works with other international organisations to help lower maternal morbidity and mortality in under-resourced countries.

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.

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 approximately 11,000 members of the College of whom over 50% are international.

Further details can be found at