Our Policies

Our policies provide a framework for the way we manage our services, activities and partnerships to remain independent and an evidence-led organisation.

Our policies cover a wide range of operational matters, from advertising external content on our web site, from managing media enquiries to event and activity sponsorship.  We work with staff, clinicians and our Trustee Board to ensure that our policies are transparent and inclusive.  The policies are developed, and reviewed regularly, to ensure we retain our independency and our evidence-led approach to our activities.

Organisations may be interested in working with us, please view our Funding Prospectus.

Funding Prospectus

Advertising Educational & Training Resources, Awards, Seminars, Courses & Events

Our purpose is to advance the science and practice of ophthalmology, which we do by supporting excellence in the training and continuing professional development of ophthalmologists.

The RCOphth collaborates with a wide range of organisations to deliver services, events and information which influences national eye health policy and benefits patients and the profession of ophthalmology.

We recognise that there are high quality external educational resources, awards, seminars/courses and events that may benefit our members and affiliates and wish to share these on appropriate RCOphth communication and publication channels. These are primarily College News, the membership quarterly magazine, Eye-mail,the enewsletter and this website.

Advertising Educational & Training Resources (such as but not limited to, papers and electronic resources)

We use the following criteria to assess suitability of resource materials on and offline:

  • There is likely to be an educational or professional development benefit to members or affiliates
  • Publication must have no conflict of interest, or perceived conflict of interest, with the values, aims and role of the RCOphth
  • No inappropriate personal information is present and publishing would not breach data protection laws
  • The information is in a format we can publish, such as PDF document or web link
  • Satisfactory permission to publish has been given by the creator, author or copyright holder

All educational resources submitted for publication will be considered by the Vice President, Policy & Communications and in consultation with any other relevant individuals, committee chairs and departments. We aim to respond within 20 working days of receipt of the request to [email protected]. There is no guarantee that a request will be approved for publication.

Advertising Seminars, Courses & Other Event Types

Each event and course is considered on a case-by-case basis. In some instances, seminars and courses which have not been awarded CPD points, may not be approved for publication on our website. Please fill in the request form on our Events & Courses page and return to [email protected].

Please contact [email protected] if you wish to enquire about CPD approval for your event.

Advertising Awards

The RCOphth endeavours to promote all relevant awards and grants to our members and requests are considered on a case by case basis. Please contact [email protected] for more details.

We undertake to publish seminars/courses and awards within 10 working days of receipt of the request on approval by the relevant department within RCOphth. There is no guarantee that a request will be approved for publication.

Keeping Content Current

The RCOphth endeavours to keep all content relevant and up to date on our website. Authors and those who submit material/information for publication are advised to keep any material they share with us under review, to provide a suggested review date which we may alter, and to inform us of any changes that become necessary before that date if appropriate.

We may remove material from the website without notice to maintain currency.

Please note we do not advertise external job roles.

Declaration of conflict of interests

Council members are expected to complete a declaration of interest form each June and to declare any conflict of interest at the start of committee meetings and to withdraw from the ensuing discussions, if appropriate. You can view a blank DoI form template here. For individual declaration of interest forms, look at Trustee profiles.

We endeavour to advance the science and practice of ophthalmology to maintain patient safety and the continuing professional development of ophthalmologists.  We do this through excellence in training, education and assessment; providing high quality standards and guidance and promoting research.

The RCOphth collaborates with a wide range of organisations to influence national eye care service, the ophthalmic workforce and eye health for the benefit of patients and the profession of ophthalmology and other medical and non-medical professionals involved in eye care services.

If any organisation, working in eye health, wishes to partner with the RCOphth and make use of our brand and name, they must provide a business case for doing so. We carefully consider the use of our name and branding (crest) to safeguard our reputation and independence.

Endorsement & Permission by RCOphth

Endorsement and permission to use our crest, name and/or the form of a written statement or wording is only provided for a specific purpose and for an agreed period of use.

No endorsement can be assumed and each request will be considered on a case-by-case basis. We can only endorse activities in which there has been direct involvement by RCOphth and the conditions of our involvement, including permission to use our name and branding, has been agreed at the beginning of the activity. Permission is very rarely given retrospectively.

In all cases, RCOphth will consider requests on the following basis:

  • We are satisfied and in agreement with the quality, sustainability, relevance of the activity and that there is a fit with RCOphth’s aims and priorities
  • The organisation, group or individual leading the work is of good reputation and standing
  • There is no conflict of interest, or perceived conflict of interest with the aims, values and role of the RCOphth


Please contact the Head of Communications & Engagement at [email protected] with details of the activity with a minimum lead time of 20 working days prior to publication or launch of the proposed activity.

All requests will be considered by a relevant College Officer and in consultation with other relevant individuals, the trustee board, the executive and departments heads. All decisions are final.

We set the curriculum and examinations for trainee ophthalmologists, provide training in eye surgery, maintain standards in the practice of ophthalmology, and promote research and advance science in the specialty. Ophthalmologists are at the forefront of eye health services because of their extensive training and experience in the field of ophthalmology.

To help guarantee the availability of ongoing funds to pay for this work, RCOphth aims to maintain a broad base of different sources of funding. The purpose of this policy is to ensure clarity and openness to all stakeholders in the eye health sector.


We actively seek opportunities to work together with organisations and individuals to achieve shared objectives. However, it is vital that RCOphth maintains its independence and does not allow any partnership to bring the name of RCOphth into disrepute. RCOphth therefore accepts financial support from, and partnership working with, companies and individuals on the following conditions:

  • There are strong grounds for believing it will result in a benefit to the aims and objectives of the College.
  • The Chief Executive and Trustees are satisfied that no serious adverse publicity will result from accepting such support
  • There is no attempt on the part of the company or individual to influence RCOphth policy or actions either explicitly or implicitly
  • That initiatives do not compromise the independent status of RCOphth

Cause Related Marketing, Affinity Marketing & Product/Service Endorsement

We do not endorse medical products or devices, nor do we promote other services knowingly linked to Eye & Visual Conditions. Endorsement or Commercial Partnerships involving services of benefit to our members i.e. insurance, credit cards etc will be assessed by the Board of Trustees on a case by case basis with analysis of the merit of the service as well as risk attached. With lower value relationships these will be similarly assessed for merit and risk but with any endorsement only extending to the value of the purpose of the product/service rather than the individual product itself.

Only RCOphth will have direct access to our database, patient groups and beneficiaries. In order to ensure that all of our cause-related promotion reflects our charity’s values any potential initiative must come to the Chief Executive and relevant governance committee for approval

Avoidance Criteria

RCOphth will not accept financial support or partnerships with companies involved with the manufacture of tobacco.

Acceptance Criteria

When deciding whether to accept any particular donation, the Chief Executive and the Trustees have a duty to demonstrate to the Charity Commission that they have acted in the best interest of the charity, and that association with any particular donor does not compromise RCOphth’s ethical position, harm our reputation or put future funding at risk.

RCOphth complies with all relevant legislation including money laundering rules, the Fundraising Code of Practice, the Bribery Act and Charity Commission guidance, including terrorism and political activity.

RCOphth therefore would not accept any of the following where the donation:

  • Was known to be associated with criminal sources
  • Would help further a donor’s personal objectives which conflict with those of RCOphth
  • Would lead to a significant decline in support for RCOphth and so risk a fall in the resources available to fund our work
  • Was from an individual/business who did not have the mental/corporate capacity to freely and willingly give a gift at the time they agreed to make the donation
  • Would otherwise significantly damage our reputation

Returning Donations

In accordance with the law, the charity does not refund donations after the gift is made, except in exceptional circumstances. This may include a breach of this policy, where accepting or retaining the gift is contrary to law or where there is an extreme ethical issue in retaining the gift. In accordance with law, a gift will only be returned at the clear written instruction of the board of trustees or charity commission.

Other Issues

Any additional ethical concerns not outlined in this policy should be reported to the Chief Executive for consideration.

The trustees have delegated decisions on fundraising to a fundraising panel, consisting of two staff members, three committee chairs and an OTG representative, however the trustees remain the ultimate decision-making body in relation to this policy and fundraising matters.

For all internet-related policies such as Confidentiality & Data Protection, Subject Access Requests, Legitimate Interests, Privacy & Cookies and more, visit our Privacy Notice page.

The RCOphth leads on the development of eye health policy and clinical information regarding examination, diagnosis and treatment of eye disease and hospital eye services. We endeavour to engage with the media on a range of issues relating to ophthalmology and the wider health agenda.

As an independent charity and membership organisation, we seek to provide content that is accurate and informative and in a way that the general public can easily understand. Where possible, we provide data and statistics from a variety of sources that we believe to be accurate and relevant.

We assess and respond to media based on the urgency and relevance of the enquiry and if aligned with our aims and if we are best placed, or able, to respond effectively.

We undertake to assess and, where appropriate, action media requests in a timely manner in order to maintain positive media relations, endeavouring to be proactive and responsive in our communication activities. All inquiries should be directed in the first instance to the Head of Communications and Engagement, Liz Price, at [email protected] or [email protected]

Press releases and statements are published on the News section of our website so that they may be easily accessed by the media and the general public.

The Honorary Treasurer must be informed in writing of all sponsorship obtained for the College before the sponsorship arrangement is accepted. There are two issues concerning corporate support for College activities which all staff and Officers need to be aware of:

  1. Sponsorship

    Where an outside organisation supports a College activity and there is use of that organisation’s name and/or logo in connection with that activity this is regarded as sponsorship. This means it will be regarded as a contractual arrangement rather than a grant arrangement. It will therefore be VATable activity. This should not have any impact on the supplying organisation as it will be able to recover the VAT. It will also ensure that they can include the charge as an allowable deduction for Corporation Tax. A contract arrangement is also beneficial, in one sense, for the College in that if we do not spend the full amount of the contracted fee we do not have to to return unspent funds: with a grant there may be a requirement to return unused funding.

  2. Trading activity

    Charities are able to trade and such trading will be regarded as either “primary purpose trading” or “ non primary purpose trading”. The taxation rules for charities allow the College to “trade” as long as the trading is connected with the delivery of its charitable objects. Thus the delivery of Congress, training courses, seminars and sponsorship are regarded as primary purpose trading. These are charitable activities and even if a profit results from this it is not chargeable to taxation. The College is allowed up to £50,000 of “non primary purpose trading” activity in any financial year. At present the other activities that are classified as non primary purpose trading are the advertising income in the Congress programme, the advertising in College News and any hiring of accommodation at the College to a third party where the hire charge includes an additional service such a catering. Once the College exceeds the £50,000 limit it is liable to Corporation Tax on all its non primary purpose trading activities and this will involve agreeing what expenses can be set against this activity. Where sponsorship amounts are in excess of the cost of the activity they are sponsoring this also may be regarded as “non primary purpose” trading and will count towards the £50,000 limit

  • At present the College can recover a significant amount of the VAT it suffers. The arrangement has been agreed with HMRC after considerable time and effort and it would not be productive to reopen the matter again. College Guidelines concerning sponsorship arrangements: All sponsorship received on behalf of the College should be fully acknowledged in the financial section of the annual report
  • Educational material that includes a logo or notice that it has been supported must have prior approval from the Honorary Treasurer
  • All sponsorships should be confirmed in a written agreement which covers, inter alia, the value of the sponsorship, the extent of any use of corporate logos and publicity materials and the duration of the sponsorship. The sponsorship agreement should also confirm that the College does not endorse any product, service or procedure associated with the sponsor
  • Hospitality from sponsors, eg catering at meetings, should not be lavish and should be appropriate to the nature of the event
  • It is necessary to avoid multiple approaches to the same sponsor to ensure that there is no inadvertent competition between projects seeking sponsorship. Therefore no individual Officer, Council Member, Member or staff member may seek sponsorship for College related activities without first obtaining the approval of the Honorary Treasurer.
  • This is to prevent small sponsorship projects placing in jeopardy larger projects. The College monitors its dependence on funding from the pharmaceutical and medical supply industry and this reference to the Treasurer is one check that the College does not become over exposed to any one commercial organisation
  • Sponsorship for research should be encouraged, but must be under the control of the researcher who must retain freedom to publish results both positive and negative.
  • Organisers of regional meetings accepting sponsorship on behalf of the College must declare the value of the sponsorship in full and give details of how the money is spent. Unless otherwise agreed in advance, any unspent money must be sent to the Honorary Treasurer at the College
  • Sponsorship for other activities – such as Fellowships may bear the name of the sponsor provided College independence and integrity is maintained. Where appropriate, sponsors may have a nominee on selection panels
  • Companies taking part in the exhibitions at Congress must conform to College and OPTIC UK guidelines, additional sponsorship can only be offered and accepted within these guidelines. Gifts to individuals attending the Congress must be modest and of no significant value
  • The College reserves the right to refuse or end sponsorship

For Members & Charities

The Royal College of Ophthalmologists is keen to help facilitate and support those who want to carry out surveys of the membership to obtain information that will ultimately be of benefit to our members or the broader ophthalmology community.

If you have an idea for a survey that you wish to undertake please submit this to the College using this Survey Application Form. This form requests:

  • A brief summary of your motivation to carry out the survey
  • Aims and Objectives
  • Intended Survey Population
  • Proposed analysis and dissemination of results

Please return the completed form along with all questionnaires and associated documentation (such as covering letters etc.) or links to online questionnaires by email to [email protected].

Applications will be reviewed and assessed to ensure that they are requesting meaningful information and the aims are achievable. Wherever possible the College will support requests for surveys, however we may limit the survey sample where considered appropriate. The review process will take three weeks.

The College will administer the electronic distribution of questionnaires and, where agreed, send out further reminders. Everyone carrying out a survey of College members will be required to provide a report detailing response rates and outcomes from the survey including how the information was disseminated.

A summary of all surveys accepted for distribution will be published on our website.

The College will charge a £100 administration fee for all surveys carried out.

We will not:

  • Share personal contact information
  • Send out surveys on behalf of commercial companies.
  • Send out postal questionnaires
  • Provide address labels

For further information or to discuss a survey proposal please contact [email protected].