About the College history

In 1928 British paediatricians attended the first meeting of the British Paediatric Association (BPA), pictured below.

In 1996, the association received Royal College status.
Formal photo of the members at the first general meeting of the BPA

British Paediatric Association

The BPA was set up with the aims of advancing the study of paediatrics and to promote friendship amongst paediatricians, and ‘to advance, for the benefit of the public, education in child health and paediatrics and to relieve sickness by promoting improvements in paediatric practice.’

The inaugural meeting was held on 2 February 1928 and, despite invitations to twenty four people, only six attended. Sir George Frederic Still, Professor of Paediatrics at King's College London, became the first President and Dr Donald Paterson, a Canadian paediatrician working in London, was the first Honorary Secretary. The rules were created and the first Annual Scientific Meeting was held later in the year at Windermere, where the focus was on social activities and the presentation of scientific papers.

Following the outbreak of World War Two, the BPA was involved in lobbying central government for measures to safeguard the health of evacuated children, and over the years, the BPA grew to be an organisation that actively sought for improvements in child health. This included publishing papers and guidelines on clinical practice, undertaking research and surveillance, and organising and participating in conferences.

Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health

Snippet of report: Why we say 'yes' to a College of Paediatrics'
From report: Why we say 'yes' to a College of Paediatrics

Members of the BPA felt that paediatrics needed to have its own Royal College. For decades, the BPA discussed the logistics of forming a college and, after the case was presented, the Privy Council confirmed they would grant College status in January 1996.

The association received its Royal Charter in August 1996 and was designated Royal in October 1996, with HRH The Princess Royal as its Patron.

The new College took responsibility for postgraduate and medical education, including continuing professional development.

Today the College has about 20,00 members who are based in the UK and around the world.

RCPCH Presidents

The President serves as the leader of the membership and the public face of the RCPCH. They lead the formulation and delivery of RCPCH strategy, working closely with Trustees, Officers, the Chief Executive Officer, senior leadership team and external stakeholders.

Our current President is Professor Steve Turner, who assumed the role in spring 2024. You can see a listing of our past RCPCH Presidents.

James Spence Medal

The James Spence Medal is our highest honour, awarded for outstanding contributions to the advancement of knowledge and understanding in paediatrics and child health. You can see a listing of the winners of the James Spence Medal.

College archive

Our archive contains records of RCPCH and British Paediatric Association from 1928 until present day. It may be of interest to those researching the College, the history of medicine, health and social policy and medical education.


For further information or enquiries, please contact the Information Governance team at information.governance@rcpch.ac.uk.