Our response to concerns about CPD policy changes

19 June 2019

In view of some of the concerns that have been expressed on social media and other forums regarding changes to our policies on continuing professional development (CPD) agreed by RCVS Council last week, we wanted to expand on what we are doing and why.

Below we tackle some of the key issues that have been raised with us and clarify some points around the policy change.


It is worth emphasising that the number of CPD hours required overall has not increased, but the way in which CPD is managed will be changing. The new policy will require 35 hours of CPD annually, rather than an annual average of 35 hours over a rolling three-year period.

In addition, our Education Department had received feedback from members of the professions who expressed a degree of confusion over the ‘rolling’ period and found it difficult to keep track of where they were in terms of meeting their CPD requirement within the timeframe.

We recognise that some members of the profession will have personal situations where they are unable to meet their CPD requirement in a given year, whether that’s because of parental leave, other caring responsibilities, long-term sick leave, or other circumstances. With that in mind, we will be retaining flexibility within the system and will be considerate and compassionate when taking into account individual circumstances.

It is also worth noting that our new CPD recording system, which we are currently developing as an app, is intended to make the recording of CPD simpler and easier and will be coming online in time for the enacting of the new policies at the beginning of 2020. At this stage it will be voluntary; use of the new recording system will only become mandatory from 2022.

Professional responsibilities

We know that a majority of the professions are committed to undertaking CPD to maintain and improve their professional skills and knowledge. Equally, we know some individuals do not engage with CPD; compliance rates have been declining year on year and our annual audit indicates that there remains around a third of all practising veterinary professionals who continually fail to be fulfil our CPD requirements.

This change is not intended to be punitive towards those who engage positively with CPD but who for legitimate reasons may struggle to fulfil requirements in a given year; rather, the change will allow us to follow up more clearly with those who persistently fail to fulfil this basic professional requirement.

We spend a considerable amount of time and resources contacting these vets and vet nurses to ensure that they are meeting our CPD requirements and the policy change will make it simpler to do this.

Undertaking CPD is crucial for maintaining the public’s trust in the profession and ensuring that animal health and welfare is safeguarded. As the regulatory body, we have a duty to make sure that members of the veterinary professions are fulfilling the requirements set out in the Codes of Professional Conduct, which is why both VN Council and our Education Committee recommended this policy change to RCVS Council.

Types of CPD

CPD is incredibly important for a flourishing profession but it does not need to be expensive, stressful or demanding. The main thing with CPD is that it is relevant to your role and supports you in providing the best care for your patients, or otherwise meeting your career aims and objectives. It can involve easily accessible options such as webinars, lectures, reading relevant articles and/or clinical papers or reflecting on your development.

Most vets and VNs engage in a wide range of CPD activities. Broadly speaking, you can count towards your CPD any activities you undertake in order to further your professional competence as part of a planned development programme. You certainly do not have to spend all of your hours on face-to-face learning.

We have more guidance on types of CPD, as well as some additional FAQs, on our website at www.rcvs.org.uk/cpd.

If anyone has concerns about fulfilling the CPD requirement they can contact the RCVS Education Department confidentially on cpd@rcvs.org.uk

Detail to follow

As we roll out our outcomes-based approach to CPD, we will be developing and sharing clear guidance. We are still very early in the process at this stage but will make further announcements as we fine-tune the details of these policies.

You can read our original announcement in full in our news archive.

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