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Defence Medical Services GP CPD: how should an organisation develop its doctors?
  1. T J Holland,
  2. M Smith and
  3. K King
  1. Academic Department of Military General Practice, Research & Clinical Innovation, Defence Medical Services, Birmingham, UK
  1. Correspondence to Wg Cdr T J Holland, Academic Department of Military General Practice, Research and Clinical Innovation, Defence Medical Services, Birmingham, UK; tobyjholland{at}

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Delivering continuing professional development (CPD) is an effective way in which an organisation can support its workforce.1 Well-led organisations engage in learning and innovation which is seen as a marker of quality healthcare by the CQC.2 This article proposes a three-pillar approach for future UK Defence GP (DGP) CPD built on a foundation of practitioner well-being, with the intention of influencing future policy and sharing experience with international partners.


In the UK Armed Forces, DGPs provide a range of primary care, prehospital emergency care (PHEC) and preventative medicine services to service personnel, and their families, in global UK military bases and deployed on operations. They comprise of regular and reservist (uniformed) DGPs and civilian DGPs employed by the Ministry of Defence (MOD). Although temporary healthcare workers are employed by Defence, they are not the focus of this article. All DGPs are registered with the GMC and hold a licence for independent practice within the UK. They have completed an approved training pathway and uniformed DGPs do so with the additional support of the residential general practice specialty training course.3 This course strives to bridge the gap between the civilian curriculum and the knowledge and skills required of DGPs.4 There is no equivalent for civilian DGPs who learn their role on the job supported by an induction document, the lead civilian DGP and their inpractice colleagues.5 Furthermore, the clinical exposure in Defence Primary Healthcare (DPHC) does not support currency in the skill set required on operations.6 7

Recovery from the global pandemic, and an increased tempo of civil and military operations, has heightened the daily demands on DPHC services; as a result, time for CPD is often de-prioritised. Further, CPD for UK Medical Appraisal and Revalidation is reliant on self-identified learning needs rather than an …

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  • Contributors TH and KK devised the concept for the article and produced the initial draft. MS supported the drafting and revision process.

  • 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.

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