Revalidation credit system explained

Time and impact are the important factors for achieving CPD credits.

GPs can claim up to 20 credits a year for online learning
GPs can claim up to 20 credits a year for online learning

The new RCGP credits system provides a unique and straightforward way for GPs to record their CPD in order to support their personal and revalidation needs.

Each royal college needs a system for recording and quantifying the CPD of every doctor in their specialty in order to support revalidation.1 The RCGP's scheme enables GPs to claim credits for the impact that their CPD has on their practice and their patients.

It encourages a variety of learning styles and experiences, and rewards reflection on the learning activity and its integration into practice.

The scheme enables GPs to readily identify and capture learning that they are already undertaking in their daily practice which can contribute to their CPD credits.

Developing the scheme
The scheme was developed by piloting it in 10 UK sites between September 2008 and May 2009. The pilot was led by Dr Chris Price, RCGP CPD fellow.

The original concept was based on impact and, to a lesser extent, challenge. Impact was the positive change brought about by the CPD and challenge was the time and effort involved. The full results of the pilot are available on the RCGP website.2

GPs liked the opportunity to demonstrate the outcomes of their learning, rather than just simple participation, and valued the reflective aspects the scheme offered. We were determined to make it as easy as possible for all GPs to use, so the final credit system has been refined to reflect all these elements, reintroducing a time-based element.3

What is a credit?
At its simplest, a credit is an hour spent on a CPD activity, which can include planning and reflection. Double credits can be earned by demonstrating the impact of the learning. GPs assess their own credits and they are verified at appraisal.

Obtaining credits: a suggested yearly balance
  • Personal unstructured reading — 10 credits
  • Targeted reading —  10 credits
  • Attendance at meetings with attendant networking opportunities —  20 credits
  • Online learning —  20 credits
  • Changes to practice made as a result of reading, attending meetings, online learning or workplace-based learning attract impact.

What is impact?
Impact in this context refers to positive change in patient care, service delivery, individual personal development or impact on others.

Guide to CPD credits
The credits guide on the RCGP website includes examples of learning credits and describes how impact can be demonstrated, for example through case histories, patient scenarios, significant event analysis or a record of how learning has influenced practice.

It is expected for everyone to achieve at least 50 credits a year, leading to 250 credits in a five-year revalidation cycle, but if there are good reasons for not collecting enough credits in one year there is flexibility to make this up in other years.

Experience has shown that most GPs already collect more than 50 credits a year.4

Balanced CPD
It is important that CPD is balanced and varied and helps to ensure that doctors are up to date in all areas of their work.

A suggested yearly balance is outlined in the box above and examples of the variety of CPD used for credits is illustrated.

Online learning
Use RCGP online tools such as the RCGP Essential Knowledge Updates and associated Essential Knowledge Challenge. Online learning programmes could claim about 10 credits. If impact on practice is demonstrated, the credits can be increased.

Completion of an online learning module with associated reading of source material of one hour in total allows you to claim one credit. Implementation of that learning in practice will double the credits.

Meetings and courses
Attending a meeting or course will attract credits for the time taken. For example, attending a meeting for an hour on heart failure when you learn about the indications of beta blockers and spironolactone will allow you to claim one credit.

Implementing that in practice will double the credits. Demonstration of impact in this situation can be through illustration with documented case histories or a significant event analysis.

A clinical meeting will also attract credits. For example, a meeting to discuss the management of chronic kidney disease for an hour is one credit. However, the lead GP for the meeting may have researched the literature, done an online module and read the NICE guidance.

The preparation for the meeting will also attract credits based on the time taken. Implementation of that learning in clinical practice, again illustrated either as case histories, significant event analysis or audit, will double the time-based credits.

  • Professor Sparrow is chairman of the RCGP professional development board

For more on revalidation, go to

Learning points

1. CPD credits offer a way of recording and measuring a variety of learning experiences.

2. A credit is an hour spent on CPD activity.

3. Credits can be doubled by demonstrating the impact of the learning.

4. GPs are expected to accumulate 250 credits in a five-year revalidation cycle.

Record your learning
Healthcare Republic's storage folder helps you save and archive your favourite GP articles online - a great tool to prepare for revalidation. Find out more at


1. RCGP. RCGP Guide to the Revalidation of General Practitioners Version 3.0, RCGP. December 2009.

2. Price C. Impact and Challenge model of CPD Credits - Pilot Report. RCGP. June 2009.

3. Price C, Sparrow N. Credits Based System for Continuing Professional Development (CPD). RCGP. June 2008.

4. Howard JC, Sparrow N, Turnbull CJ, Hydes AL. Continuing Professional Development and revalidation - an analysis of General Practitioners recorded learning. Educ Prim Care 2009; 20: 298-303.

Guide to the RCGP CPD credits system

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