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[Perspectives] The Royal College of Physicians at 500 years: changing roles and challenges

The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) celebrates its 500th anniversary on Sept 23, 2018. Few organisations have been in continual existence for longer in the field of medicine and to be able to celebrate a quincentenary is a remarkable achievement. Over 500 years, the RCP has assumed different functions as a consequence of the many changes in British sociopolitical history and British medicine. Here, we reflect on some of these changing roles and challenges to the current roles of the College.