Changes to RCPI Council structure and By-Laws – More elected roles and increased Trainee representation

New Council structure and By-Laws approved

A review of the structure of RCPI Council has taken place and a series of changes of far-reaching changes to Council's remit, membership, elections, roles and committees will come into effect next year.

These changes are designed to ensure that we can operate more effectively and provide a better service for our members.

The changes were approved by Council on 21 June 2019 and were developed as part of the RCPI Governance Implementation Programme.

This marks the most far-reaching series of changes to Council in recent times and is a significant milestone for the governance implementation programme. We are moving towards a Council of mostly elected members, and one that is representative of all of our Faculties and Institutes. On behalf of Council, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of those involved in the Governance Implementation Programme. This includes the members of the Governance Improvements Working Group and the Governance Oversight Group, in particular Ms Emma Cuddihy, Programme Manager for the Governance Implementation Programme.

Professor Donal Reddan

Treasurer, Royal College of Physicians of Ireland

Changes to Council membership

The following changes to Council membership have been approved and will come into effect next year:

  • A reduction in the number of members of Council from 38 to between 22-26 members
  • There will no longer be a ‘Senior’ or ‘Junior’ designation for Fellows on Council
  • There will now be 12 elected seats on Council and these will be representative of all Faculties/Institutes within the College – Seven seats from Internal Medicine and one seat each from Pathology, Paediatrics, Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Public Health and Occupational Medicine
  • The term on Council has been extended from two years to three years for most roles
  • Past Presidents will remain on Council for one year instead of six year post-presidency
  • Voting members of Council will become Trustees of the College
  • Trainee representation on Council has been increased from one to two members drawn from the RCPI Trainees' Committee
  • Council Members, on approval from the Treasurer, may receive a waiver on their FRCPI subscription for the duration of their term on Council
Professor Donal Reddan, Treasurer

Changes to Council Elections

The elections for the President and Council members (now referred to as Ordinary Councillors) will take place within a shorter timeline.

The next election for the President-Designate will commence in March 2020 with a call for nominations. Ballots will open in May 2020 and will close in July. This will reduce the President-Designate term from 10 months to three months before they become President in October 2020.

The same timeline will apply for Ordinary Councillor elections.

In March next year, a call will be made for 12 Ordinary Councillors representing all Faculties/Institutes within the College. All Fellows in good standing will be able to vote for candidates in all categories, regardless of their specialty. To ensure good succession planning, for the 2020 election only a third of elected Ordinary Councillors will serve for two years, a third will serve for three years and the final third will serve for four years and this will be determined by a draw after the election. This is to ensure that by 2022 (and every year thereafter) there will be an election for four seats every year.

All those running for election to Council must hold FRCPI

In order to be eligible to run for election, all candidates must hold FRCPI.

If you are a Fellow of a Faculty (or Member of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists) and don’t already hold FRCPI but are interested in becoming a Fellow or running for Council, we invite you to apply for Fellowship.

Anyone approved for Fellowship by March 2020 will be eligible to be included on the ballot, provided all other required criteria have been met.

Changes to Council Committees

A new committee structure has been agreed.

Previously, there were 38 committees, working groups and policy groups all reporting directly to Council.

Under our new By-Laws, any committees with a financial or operational remit have been realigned under the Executive Board.

Committees reporting to directly to Council are either in place or in development and will include:

  • Executive Board
  • Governance and nominations committee
  • Credentials and Awards committee
  • Ethics committee

There will be further updates on the new committee structures later this year.

New terms of reference outline the duties and responsibilities of Council members

In line with all of the changes outlined above, we have also developed terms of reference outlining the specific duties of Council as the Governing Body of RCPI and the role of Council members.

You can view the new terms of reference below.

We have also included in the By-Laws more detailed information on the duties and responsibilities of the President, Registrar, Treasurer, College Vice-President, Censors and the CEO.

Finally, the new By-Laws include an important section on matters reserved/delegated. This section clarifies what decisions Council reserve and which matters they delegate to the Executive Board.

Terms of reference outlining the specific duties of Council

We have developed terms of reference outlining the specific duties of Council as the Governing Body of RCPI and the role of Council members.

New By-Laws relevant to Council

As part of this series of changes, we are making changes to the By-Laws relevant to Council. The relevant new By-Laws are available to view here.

What’s next?

The Governance Implementation Programme is ongoing, with further changes underway over the coming year.

This will include

  • Further changes to our committee structures, including implementation of a series of policies to ensure effective management and decision making at committee and board level
  • A review of our clinical leadership model
  • Further development supporting the implementation of the Institute of Medicine

Members of the Governance Improvements Working Group

  • Prof Donal Reddan (Chair)
  • Dr Ronan Collins
  • Prof Michael Keane
  • Dr Liam Bannan
  • Dr Louise Burke
  • Mr Leo Kearns/Mr Michael Farrell (CEO)
  • Dr Domhnall McGlacken Byrne
  • Dr Fenton Howell
  • Ms Harriet Wheelock
  • Ms Roisin Neary
  • Ms Emma Cuddihy (Programme Manager)

Members of the Governance Oversight Group

  • Prof Mary Horgan (Chair)
  • Prof Donal Reddan
  • Dr Anna Clarke
  • Dr Diarmuid O’Shea
  • Prof Anthony O’Regan
  • Dr Aine Carroll
  • Prof Des O’Neill
  • Mr David Byrne
  • Dr Peter Boylan
  • Dr James Mahon/Dr Cormac Kennedy (RCPI Trainees' Committee)
  • Ms Kellie Myers
  • Mr Leo Kearns/Mr Michael Farrell (CEO)
  • Ms Emma Cuddihy (Programme Manager)

Contact us

We will keep you updated on further significant developments. If you have any questions about the Council review or any of the governance programme changes please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Professor Donal Reddan


Professor Donal Reddan is the Treasurer of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland. Dr Reddan is a Consultant Nephrologist, General Physician and clinical lecturer at Galway University Hospital. He is also group Clinical Director for medicine at the SAOLTA (WNWHG) group. A graduate of UCD he completed post-graduate training in Dublin, a residency in General Medicine at AGH Pittsburgh and a fellowship in Nephrology at Duke University Medical Center, Durham North Carolina. He also completed a Masters in health sciences at Duke University Medical Center and served on faculty as an Assistant Professor in the division of Nephrology and at the Duke Clinical Research Institute. He has been involved in the design and implementation of a number of important clinical trials in chronic kidney disease. He has over 80 peer reviewed publications and has published extensively in the area of CKD associated anaemia, CKD associated cardiovascular risk and contrast induced acute kidney injury.

Emma Cuddihy

Programme Manager, Governance Implementation Programme

Tel: 01 863 9730