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‘Little evidence’ CPD improves performance, finds GMC report

There is ‘little evidence’ that undertaking CPD helps doctors to improve their professional effectiveness, concludes a GMC-commissioned evaluation.

The report, commissioned by the GMC to assess the impact of CPD on doctors’ performance, found ‘relatively few examples’ of CPD directly impacting on patient care.

But it did conclude that CPD tended to be more effective when it is integrated with appraisal, linked to personal development plans or aligned with ‘organisational objectives’.

The report from the Academic Unit of Primary Medical Care at the University of Sheffield and Capita said GPs were ‘well ahead’ of other specialties in terms of systematic support of CPD and putting learning into practice. But it recommended that the absence of patient/public involvement in doctors’ CPD, and the lack of support for locum, portfolio career or private GPs needed to be addressed.

The report said: ‘Doctors should continue to assume responsibility for taking part in and recording their own CPD. However there was little evidence found by this study that CPD was helping them to improve their professional effectiveness.

It added: ‘Relatively few examples were found of the direct impact of CPD on patient care an little attempt is being made currently to evaluate the effectiveness of CPD because of the perceived complexity of doing so in a robust way and because of the potential resource implications.’

Professor Sir Peter Rubin, GMC chair said: ‘As doctors we pride ourselves on keeping our professional skills and knowledge up to date so that we continue to provide the best possible care to patients.

‘Revalidation ensures that all doctors take part in professional development but we need to have the time and space to undertake CPD, then be enabled to reflect on what we have learned and put it into our day to day practice.

‘This research will help the GMC provide what support and guidance it can to doctors so they make the most of their professional development opportunities.’

While the GMC does not require GPs to earn a specific amount of CPD points as part of the revalidation cycle, the RCGP recommends GPs earn a minimum of 50 CPD points a year or, 250 points over five years. The College proposed that GPs should be able to double their points if they can demonstrate the impact of their learning.