The health and lifestyle problems of medical students and doctors give cause for concern on several fronts. We have developed a health policy for staff and students in Newcastle Medical School. This policy presents integrated recommendations relating to six key areas, i.e. alcohol, physical activity, sexual health, stress, occupational health and safety, and diet. The methods used to develop recommendations in relation to alcohol are described here. They were adopted by the working groups developing recommendations in the other areas. There were four key stages to policy development: establishing an information base; preparing a draft policy for consultation; consulting staff and students, and finalizing the policy. Consultation was a slow and challenging process but led to substantial revisions to the policy, enhancing its acceptability and likely success. The final policy includes a 3-year implementation plan setting out actions, resource implications and key players. Our policy, which has been adopted by the medical school and will soon be implemented, includes recommendations regarding changes to the school environment, training and education needs for staff and students, and access to services for those with alcohol related problems. Health policies should be developed in other medical schools and our approach offers a possible model.