CPD in healthcare: Now and beyond

CPD in healthcare: Now and beyond

01 May 2024

HC Skills International Ltd

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This informal CPD article ‘CPD in healthcare: Now and beyond’ was provided by Dr Jacqueline Haughton, Medical Director at Healthcare Skills International, an approved education centre delivering a range of externally validated competence-based qualifications to the medical profession and healthcare industry.

To ensure ongoing clinical effectiveness in present and future roles, Continuing Professional Development (CPD) programs must cater to a spectrum of requirements for healthcare professionals. These include staying updated on technical advancements, acquiring specialized knowledge relevant to one's field, and fostering personal growth and skill enhancement.

Technological innovations in healthcare

Transitioning to the use of a major technical innovation that could significantly impact clinical practice can be challenging for senior clinicians. Once new techniques have been learned, a profound change in the patient’s journey may be needed to implement change successfully, with ramifications well beyond a straightforward procedural switch. Many innovations can have a steep learning curve. By proactively engaging in training, seeking mentorship, implementing new technologies incrementally, leveraging support resources, and engaging in reflective practice, senior clinicians can navigate the challenges associated with adopting major technical innovations and embrace the opportunities they present for enhancing patient care and clinical outcomes.

Perfecting new skills and establishing their indications can expose the senior clinician to significant governance issues and reputational harm if they accrue insufficient expertise before practicing independently. Surgical audit and organisational governance managers may lack the background knowledge, or their audit tools may be too insensitive to recognise the change or decide when experience is sufficient to support a change to routine practice. Those interpreting and acting on audit data (whether directly or indirectly) may lack sufficient understanding and/ or insight to avoid harm to the practitioner through poor interpretation of outcomes.

At a time when senior clinicians are particularly time-poor, whether trainers or trainees of new tech, a premature change in service is tempting before sufficient experience has been gained.

In the coming years, the development of new technologies and pressure on senior clinicians to adopt them early will increase. Innovation in the medical device sector is occurring faster than ever, with computer and robotic-assistance and artificial intelligence ramping up the pace of change. With ageing populations increasing service pressures, high population co-morbidity post-COVID and a built-in saving of clinical time accompanying most innovation, early adoption will be attractive to healthcare and governmental organisations.

Deployment of new technology by ‘early adopters’ before the indications and complications of a ‘new tech’ procedure has been established in the context of older therapeutic measures, is an important factor supporting the pace of innovation – that, and the demand of patients for more effective and less invasive treatments, the need to drive down costs and the reduction in trained human resources associated with our ever-changing healthcare landscape. Post-pandemic, at a time when there is a huge backlog of work and particularly severe challenges to delivering a safe and effective clinical service in many healthcare systems, how do senior clinicians find sufficient time to learn (and teach) technical innovations and satisfy their personal developmental needs. to deliver the umbrella or ‘bigger picture’ roles in governance, organisational management and healthcare planning? Balancing personal development with clinical duties and broader organisational responsibilities is key to fostering a resilient and impactful healthcare practice.

Medical device sector is occurring faster

The increase in health professional migration

The impact of these issues on delivering safe and effective healthcare, and the knock-on effect of failure to do so on the country’s economy should not be underestimated (1,2,3).

In the UK, the National Health Service is losing young medically qualified personnel as never before. Dissatisfaction among such healthcare professionals is such that increasingly, they would rather emigrate than build a career in the UK. Current independent research commissioned by the UK’s General Medical Council, explored the reasons why medical graduates consider migration or move abroad (4).

Believing current practice constraints to be untenable even in the short term, and with the debt-burden of a medical degree, there has been a sea change in how vocation is viewed (5). Rather than current terms and conditions being thought of as a ‘bump in the road’ in how we work, they are deemed part of an inexorable decline in the value of medical training in the public sector (6). The recent industrial action by UK consultants and junior medical staff is an indication of their depth of feeling, and the situation is sufficiently serious that there is a real concern about service provision in the coming months (7). Whenever there is a retention issue of this magnitude and impact, serious thought needs to be given as to how to prolong the careers of doctors approaching retirement age (8), as well as improving the working lives, terms and conditions of younger medics (9).

It is unfortunate that so soon after the pandemic, a time when healthcare staff were held in such high regard by both their political masters and the public (10,11,12), and the profession pulled out all the stops, such a high proportion of the medical workforce is feeling undervalued professionally, dissatisfied with opportunities for career progression and is generally disillusioned with the UK’s healthcare systems. The widespread perception among doctors is that the UK’s health systems are ill equipped to provide patients with the care they need (13) – a feeling held by many of us who have needed healthcare recently.

Some specialties are more forgiving than others regarding continuing in full practice. Senior clinicians may also consider transitioning into non-patient-facing roles within healthcare organizations or academia. These roles, such as consulting, mentoring, research, education, administration, or policy development, can provide opportunities to utilize their expertise, contribute to healthcare advancements, and engage in strategic decision-making without the demands of direct patient care.

The current CPD approach remains the optimum route into training for established clinical staff. For some, training for new roles towards the end of a clinician’s time at the coal face is key to keeping professional expertise within the workforce and addressing the realities of retaining older members of an otherwise unstable medical workforce in available roles. This should be part of an overhaul in approach to managing the medical retention crisis. Continuing Professional Development which addresses a pivot in role for more senior doctors should be recognised as an integral part of an NHS medical workforce retention plan (14,15).

We hope this article was helpful. For more information from HC Skills International, please visit their CPD Member Directory page. Alternatively, you can go to the CPD Industry Hubs for more articles, courses and events relevant to your Continuing Professional Development requirements.


(1) https://www.nhsconfed.org/publications/analysis-link-between-investing-health-and-economic-growth#:~:text=The%20main%20argument%20that%20health,economic%20output%20(GVA)%20per%20person

(2) https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/how-is-health-affecting-economic-inactivity/#:~:text=Long%2Dterm%20sickness%20accounted%20for,is%20due%20to%20temporary%20sickness.

(3) https://www.bma.org.uk/what-we-do/population-health/addressing-social-determinants-that-influence-health/valuing-health-why-prioritising-population-health-is-essential-to-prosperity

(4) https://www.nhsemployers.org/news/gmc-report-reveals-why-doctors-may-leave-uk#:~:text=The%20latest%20GMC%20data%2C%20shows,of%20their%20reasons%20for%20leaving

(5) https://www.bma.org.uk/news-and-opinion/damning-survey-results-reveal-scale-of-junior-doctors-hardship

(6) https://www.nuffieldtrust.org.uk/resource/exploring-the-earnings-of-nhs-doctors-in-england

(7) https://www.bma.org.uk/advice-and-support/nhs-delivery-and-workforce/workforce/nhs-medical-staffing-data-analysis

(8) https://www.england.nhs.uk/long-read/retaining-doctors-in-late-stage-career-10-recommendations-for-systems-and-employers/#:~:text=New%20ways%20of%20working,help%20increase%20motivation%20to%20stay.

(9) https://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2023/11/PRN00960-enhancing-doctors-working-lives-2023-annual-report.pdf

(10) https://www.bma.org.uk/advice-and-support/covid-19/what-the-bma-is-doing/covid-19-the-impact-of-the-pandemic-on-the-medical-profession

(11) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7571746/

(12) https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/hex.13359

(13) https://eurohealthobservatory.who.int/publications/i/united-kingdom-health-system-review-2022#:~:text=The%20United%20Kingdom%20has%20relatively,as%20the%20COVID%2D19%20pandemic.

(14) https://www.rcog.org.uk/media/me2n4tms/later-career-retirement-report.pdf

(15) https://www.rcseng.ac.uk/careers-in-surgery/surgeons/retirement/



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HC Skills International Ltd

HC Skills International Ltd

For more information from HC Skills International Ltd, please visit their CPD Member Directory page. Alternatively please visit the CPD Industry Hubs for more CPD articles, courses and events relevant to your Continuing Professional Development requirements.

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