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Policy and Advocacy


Recent Initiatives


Tobacco 21

Nearly 4,500 people die in Ireland each year from the effects of smoking - the single biggest contributor to early death. Thousands more suffer from smoking-related diseases, including heart and lung disease, and cancers.

In September 2022, the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland’s Policy Group on Tobacco launched a report calling for the minimum age of sale of tobacco to be raised from 18 to 21. The report was developed from national and international evidence analysed by the Institute of Public Health. The report by the RCPI Policy Group says amending legislation to raise the minimum legal age for the sale of tobacco products in Ireland offers a proven approach to significantly reduce the numbers of teenagers and young adults becoming addicted to tobacco.

Read full report

Tobacco Free Ireland:Time for Tobacco 21 (PDF, 1,365KB)


Cancer Care in Ireland in 2020 – the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic

This report, launched in Dec 2021, highlighted the impact the COVID-19 pandemic had on cancer diagnostics and treatment in Ireland in 2020.  The report was a collaboration between the Faculty of Pathology (RCPI), National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP), National Specialty Quality Improvement Programmes in Histopathology, Queen's University Belfast (QUB), SQI programmes in GI Endoscopy and Radiology, National Cancer Registry Ireland (NCRI), Northern Ireland Cancer Registry and DATA-CAN (the UK’s Health Data Research Hub for Cancer).

The report detailed the reduction in activity experienced across the cancer services pathway during 2020, most marked during the first wave of the pandemic in March to June 2020. There was variable recovery in all aspects of presentation, diagnosis, and treatment from June 2020 onward however activity overall did not reach 2019 levels.  The report made the following high-level recommendations arising from the analysis of the data:

  • Continue to encourage and support the public to act early on signs and symptoms of possible cancer
  • Ensure a resilient cancer service with sufficient capacity to address backlogs and increasing demands
  • Improve availability and integration of data to provide more timely, comprehensive cancer-specific intelligence encompassing public and private healthcare system.

Read full report

Cancer Care in Ireland in 2020 – the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic (PDF, 2,292KB)



In May 2021, a paper from the Faculty of Paediatrics, Faculty of Public Health and the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland highlighted that despite improvements over the last 15 years, breastfeeding rates in Ireland remain below international targets. Cultural norms, knowledge gaps among healthcare professionals and lack of practical support impact on these rates. The paper made recommendations for greater support for breastfeeding families, better education for the public and for healthcare professionals and improvements in hospital facilities to support breastfeeding.

The paper also affirmed RCPI’s commitment to hosting all meetings, conferences, and study days free from sponsorship from breastmilk substitutes in accordance with the WHO Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes.

Read paper

A position paper on Breastfeeding (PDF, 3,885KB)


Your college, your voice - Setting Advocacy Priorities

In 2022/2023, a comprehensive consultation is underway to scope advocacy priorities under RCPI’s new strategy. This involves focus groups with RCPI’s Council, Executive Board, Senior Management team and healthcare leadership staff. Focus groups have also been carried out in hospitals throughout the country. In Q1 2023, there will be a survey of membership to further rank and prioritise the ideas arising from the focus groups.


Recent consultation submissions

RCPI regularly makes submissions to national consultations on healthcare related issues. In 2022/2021 we made submissions as part of the following consultations:

  • Department of Health public consultation on a National Open Disclosure Framework (September 2022)
  • HSE Consultation with Professional Bodies on the role of Prescribed Classes of Professionals in assessing capacity for Co-Decision Making Agreements (CDMA) and Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) applications as required by the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act (April 2022)
  • Draft National Clinical Guideline for Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) (February 2022)
  • HIQA Public consultation: Draft recommendations on a consent model for the collection, use and sharing of health information in Ireland (January 2022)
  • Department of Health public consultation on the National Adult Palliative Care Policy (November 2021)
  • Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth announced a public consultation on a new National Action Plan against Racism for Ireland (July 2021)
  • Development of Ireland’s second National Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)2021- 2025 iNAP2 (March 2021)