2024 General Election guide

July's general election will be a crucial moment for GPs and their teams, for patients and for general practice. As the front door of the NHS, general practice deserves to be high on the political agenda. To safeguard the future of general practice, the voice of GPs and their patients must be heard during this election.

London's Big Ben at the end of a bridge in twilight

Contact your candidates

We know how important fixing the challenges facing general practice is to our members. But we need your help. Now is the time for us to come together and use our collective voices to tell all candidates about the RCGP’s manifesto and why general practice must be prioritised.

Take action now

Taking this action will take you two minutes but could help to secure lasting change for general practice. Make sure your voice is heard this election:

Contact your candidates
A pair of hands are typing on a silver laptop.

If you want to do more in the run-up to the general election, you can explore the guidance on pre-election period, social media, and practice visits below. We’re also collecting quotes from our members to illustrate the experiences of people working within general practice. Learn more and share your story with us.

Pre-election period

The pre-election period describes the period of time when specific restrictions on communications activities are in place. These limitations aim to ensure fairness, impartiality, and the avoidance of potential influence on electoral outcomes.

As a registered charity, during this time it is essential that any communications by the RCGP and its representatives are not seen to be party political according to a reasonable observer.

If you are considering contacting or inviting your local politicians to a practice visit as a representative of the RCGP, it is important that a fair and balanced approach is taken, for example, making sure that reasonable effort is taken to invite as many of the political parties to take part as possible. If you are inviting a candidate(s) to your practice or meeting with a candidate outside your links with the RCGP, this should be made clear in all communications.

RCGP and its representatives can, for example, highlight the relevant commitments made relating to general practice by each political party, but we cannot call on people to vote for one party or another. Whilst we aim to influence opinions on issues relating to our goals as an organisation, we must leave it to the electorate to make their own decisions about how to vote.

RCGP members with positions of responsibility can undertake political activities in a personal capacity. However, given that RCGP is unable to lend support to a particular political party, those standing for election or supporting particular parties or candidates must ensure that there is no reference to their involvement with the RCGP in election materials, and that it is clear that any views on general practice expressed in the course of campaigning are made in a non-College capacity.

For more information and guidance you can check the GOV.UK page on political activity and campaigning by charities. For those based in Scotland, separate guidance has been issued by the Scottish Charity Register.

Amplifying your voice through social media

Social media platforms are a powerful tool for amplifying your message. Sharing your story on social media can help raise awareness of the need for change and help get your message to changemakers. 

We’ve put together these digital assets to help you harness your voice online, mobilise support for the RCGP’s calls and make a lasting impact.

During the pre-election period, it is important that particular parties or candidates are not promoted on social media in RCGP’s name. As such, members posting in a personal capacity should remove reference to the RCGP from their Twitter bios or equivalent if they intend to share views on specific parties or candidates.  Members posting as an RCGP representative should remain party-neutral at all times and avoid talking about issues outside our work and charitable objectives.

Under electoral law, statements comparing the policies or viewpoints of different parties or candidates must be handled very carefully as there is a risk that the promotion of our charitable objectives could be confused with the promotion of a particular party or candidate.  If members with positions of responsibility within RCGP make such comparisons via their own personal social media accounts, they must accordingly ensure that it is clear that these are not the views of the College.  Any statements issued on behalf of the College in relation to the policies of particular candidates or parties must be issued by the relevant nation’s media team.  We would encourage members to feel free to post official College statements and campaigning materials during this time.

Images and video for social media

You can download these image and video assets to share on social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and X (formerly Twitter). Download the election social media assets (ZIP file, 7.4 MB).

Promote our online campaign action

Feel free to use this copy to promote the campaign action on your social media.

Join me in telling your parliamentary candidates why general practice matters this election. Write to tell them why general practice should be at the heart of the next government's plans for the NHS. ➡️ https://rcgp.eaction.org.uk/2024GE1

Promote our election manifesto

Feel free to use this copy to promote the RCGP’s manifesto on your social media.

I support the RCGP’s general election manifesto for England, setting out seven steps the next government should take to save general practice and safeguard our NHS. #RCGPManifesto ➡️ www.rcgp.org.uk/manifesto

How to hold a successful practice visit

1. Get in touch

As your membership body we are here to help you. The guide below offers some tips, but we are keen to know if you hear back from your local candidates and support you for any visit. During the pre-election period, any requests for practice visits from candidates standing in the election to an RCGP representative should be referred to the RCGP public affairs teams. Members may of course choose to accept or arrange visits on behalf of their practice or in a personal capacity, but in this case any reference to representing the RCGP should be avoided.

You can contact the team here:

2. Inform your colleagues

Different practices will have different rules and systems for gaining permission to invite politicians/candidates to their practice. In many practices it will be important to get the permission of all the partners before you arrange a visit.

3. Invite the candidates

If you'd like to invite candidates to visit your practice, you can use a template letter designed by the RCGP which you can edit with your own information and send to the candidates here:

If you are inviting candidates as a representative of the RCGP, it is vital that you invite a reasonable spread of candidates. Ideally this would be all of them, at least from the major political parties.

4. Arrange the visit

It may take some time for your candidates to respond. Once you have received a response from them, they will most likely put you in touch with their staff to arrange the visit. Remember to ask how long their visit is likely to be so that you can plan accordingly. You may be asked to give a short summary of the issue that you would like to raise so that the candidates can be prepared.

As explained above, there can be some restrictions on arranging visits in the pre-election period. Please contact us in advance if you are unsure or if you face any issues.

5. Plan the visit

Once you have confirmed the date and time, confirm with the candidate how long they can stay with you and what you would like to do (it is paramount you control the agenda and the topics being discussed):

  1. Meet GPs and staff?
    Make sure practice staff are aware of the visit. You may want to work with the practice staff to decide responsibilities on the day of the visit.
  2. Invite the local media for a photocall?
    If you and the candidate are both happy, then you can invite local media and any other guests with plenty of notice. If local press photographers or videographers are going to attend, or if you want to share photos on social media, you need to make sure permissions are sought.
  3. Agree on social media posts
    The candidate will generally want to use social media to publicise their visit. You can also thank them for coming on your own social media alongside a picture.

6. Know what you want to say and show

This is the most important part of the visit. Your local candidate will want to know what the issues facing general practice means to you specifically – how it’s impacted you professionally and personally, and most importantly what it means for your patients.

This doesn’t mean you should only talk about the negatives: this is also a chance to talk about how you help your patients and about any innovative work that your practice does.

And don’t worry about the national picture. You can access national statistics and key messages on our website. However, the main aim of the visit will be to share your local experience.

7. Prepare an agenda

The visit does not have to be seamless, but it might be helpful to prepare an outline a structure for the visit. You may be asked to share this outline with the candidate’s office, so they know what to expect on the day.

Think about what activities will showcase the practice and when you’ll get a chance to talk one-to-one to your candidate in a quieter space. Be mindful of the time each segment of the visit will take so you don’t have to rush through things.

8. Send a "thank you"

Send a letter or email to the candidate to thank them for the meeting. If you committed to provide them with any additional information, or a local press release, you could include this in your message.

9. Consider sending out a press release

After the visit you may want to reach out to some local papers and news outlets in your area who might be interested in covering your candidates visit. The easiest way to do this is to search your local newspaper, radio station or TV outlet online and drop them an email with a press release attached.

Alternatively, you might agree with the candidate that they will publicise the visit.

10. Tell us about your visit

Please do let us know how the visit went. We're ready to answer any questions you may have, or support with follow-up actions after the meeting.

RCGP General Election manifesto

The RCGP General Election manifesto for England sets out seven steps to save general practice and safeguard our NHS.

Read our full General Election manifesto