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Original research
Continuing professional development requirements for UK health professionals: a scoping review
  1. Marek Karas1,
  2. Nik J L Sheen1,
  3. Rachel V North1,
  4. Barbara Ryan1,
  5. Alison Bullock2
  1. 1School of Optometry and Vision Sciences, Cardiff University, Cardiff, South Glamorgan, UK
  2. 2School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK
  1. Correspondence to Marek Karas; karasm{at}


Objectives This paper sets out to establish the numbers and titles of regulated healthcare professionals in the UK and uses a review of how continuing professional development (CPD) for health professionals is described internationally to characterise the postqualification training required of UK professions by their regulators. It compares these standards across the professions and considers them against the best practice evidence and current definitions of CPD.

Design A scoping review.

Search strategy We conducted a search of UK health and social care regulators’ websites to establish a list of regulated professional titles, obtain numbers of registrants and identify documents detailing CPD policy. We searched Applied Social Sciences Index and Abstracs (ASSIA), Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), Medline, EMCare and Scopus Life Sciences, Health Sciences, Physical Sciences and Social Sciences & Humanities databases to identify a list of common features used to describe CPD systems internationally and these were used to organise the review of CPD requirements for each profession.

Results CPD is now mandatory for the approximately 1.5 million individuals registered to work under 32 regulated titles in the UK. Eight of the nine regulators do not mandate modes of CPD and there is little requirement to conduct interprofessional CPD. Overall 81% of those registered are required to engage in some form of reflection on their learning but only 35% are required to use a personal development plan while 26% have no requirement to engage in peer-to-peer learning.

Conclusions Our review highlights the wide variation in the required characteristics of CPD being undertaken by UK health professionals and raises the possibility that CPD schemes are not fully incorporating the best practice.

  • continuing professional development
  • CPD
  • requirements
  • characteristics
  • continuing education and training
  • CET
  • health professionals

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  • Contributors MK is the lead author, responsible for the conception of the work, data acquisition, data analysis and final interpretation. He wrote the initial draft and then has led the process of revising and critically apprising subsequent drafts. NJLS, BR and AB are coauthors, making a substantial contribution to the conception of the work, data analysis and final interpretation. RVN is coauthor, making a substantial contribution to the data analysis, and final interpretation. NJLS, BR, AB and RVN contributed to the process of revising and critically apprising subsequent drafts. All authors have approved the final draft and agreed to be accountable for all aspects of the work ensuring that any questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information.