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FAQs on CPD and revalidation

Frequently asked questions about Pulse's CPD section and what revalidation will mean for you.

What are CPD credits?

As part of the preparations for revalidation, the RCGP has advised that all GPs should already be collecting evidence of all their CPD activity and recording the number of CPD credits they earn.

This learning can be for activities that improve the GP's knowledge and skills in any area of work, so credits can be claimed for clinical CPD, finance/practice management learning, development of teaching skills and so on.

The CPD credits system is part of the strengthened annual appraisal system that will underpin revalidation. This evidence of CPD credits earned will be an important part of a GP's revalidation portfolio, on which PCT responsible officers will recommend GPs for revalidation and the licence to continue practising.

How can I earn credits?

By recording the hours spent doing CPD and the impact of that learning time.

At its simplest, each recorded hour spent on any CPD activity (including planning and reflection time) will count as a single learning credit. For, example completing an online CPD module for two hours would be two credits.

However, the RCGP specifically states GPs cannot simply claim points without any further reflection on what they have learned and how they will use it in practice. GPs will be expected to include the learning points gained and the relevance of the activity to their work.

Why should I worry about this now?

Growing numbers of PCTs are asking GPs to produce evidence at each annual appraisal of the number of CPD credits they have collected over the preceding year - and this trend towards more rigorous appraisal is likely to gather pace over the next couple of years, with PCTs that have been slow to strengthen the appraisal process coming under pressure to do so.

But hasn't revalidation been kicked into the long grass by the new Government?

Health secretary Andrew Lansley has ordered a one-year extension of the revalidation pilots, which means that the national roll-out of revalidation won't begin until April 2012 at the earliest. Mr Lansley also wants the GMC to simplify the revalidation proposals to ensure the cost is proportionate to the benefits.

However, the RCGP's proposed CPD credits system is expected to survive this overhaul of the revalidation proposals - and the college is advising GPs to get used to assigning CPD credits to their learning. This is both because GPs who do so will be well placed when revalidation is rolled out and because increasing numbers of PCTs are already expecting GPs to provide evidence of CPD credits at their annual appraisals.

How many CPD credits do I need?

GPs undergoing revalidation will be required to gain a minimum of 50 CPD credits a year or 250 CPD credits over each five-year revalidation cycle. In line with this, PCTs that have already incorporated the CPD credits system into their strengthened appraisal processes are generally asking GPs to collect evidence of at least 50 credits per year.

The first GPs to undergo revalidation will not be expected to submit a full five year portfolio of evidence, with the number of CPD points increasing as time goes on.

Where can I get CPD credits from?

There will be no formal accreditation or approval system for CPD credits, the onus will be on the GP to self-assess the value of them. These points will then be verified at their annual appraisal.

The RCGP has specified some upper limits for the amount of hours a GPs should claim for any given CPD activity in a single year, with no more than 20 credits for educational meetings/conferences, 10 credits for personal unstructured reading, 10 for targeted reading and 10 each for unstructured and structured online reading.

What are bonus impact CPD credits?

For any given piece of CPD the GP will be able to double the basic hours spent by showing the learning had a specific impact on patients, their own personal development or the health service.

For example, the learning may have resulted in a change in the practice protocols for a certain disease, the GP recorded a case study where the learning changed their management, or the practice became a training practice as a result of the learning.

The RCGP advises GPs to record any time involved in CPD as hours-based credits and then to reflect back on that learning occasionally over the following couple of years to make a judgment on whether to claim bonus credits for impact. Where a GP feels impact credits are warranted, he or she can record the supporting evidence alongside the basic credits claim.

How can Pulse CPD help?

Every week Pulse's clinical section will contain a new feature ‘Key Questions' which will update you on a specific clinical condition. Plus ‘What's new in..' is a new monthly series informing you of recent developments in a clinical area – based on the RCGP core curriculum.

Then every month we will bring you PulsePlus- where the whole clinical section will be devoted to articles on one subject.

All these can earn you CPD credits. Read the article, then answer our online assessment questionnaire and we will send you a certificate of credits earned towards the 50 you'll need each year for revalidation.

This will list the CPD credits received and provides a section for you to record your learning points and how you will use what you have learnt in practice. This document can then be directly included in your revalidation portfolio.

You will also be able to search a library of past CPD articles online and complete the questions if you require credits in a particular area.

How can Pulse seminars help?

Pulse seminars are specifically focused on the sort of practice, needs-based learning that the new credit system is weighted towards.

At the end of each day, the chair will help you generate ideas on how you can implement what you have learnt to gain extra CPD credits.

After each Pulse seminar, you will receive a certificate confirming your attendance and the number of CPD credits received. You will also receive a form to record your own learning points and their relevance to your work.

These documents can then be directly inserted into your appraisal folder to support the number of CPD credits you have claimed.

To find out more about the Pulse seminars programme please click here.

Further reading

To find out more, you can download the RCGP guide to revalidation by clicking here.