The purpose of this study was to understand what impact nurses perceived continuing professional education (CPE) to have on the quality of nursing care Given that CPE will become mandatory once the necessary legislation has been implemented, the value and worth of CPE with regard to the quality of nursing care, in both a consumer-led and financially-driven NHS, merits serious consideration Little research has been conducted into the real impact that CPE has on the quality of nursing care and this paper begins by providing an overview of the current debate within the profession The method chosen for the study was qualitative and 18 nurses from a large hospital in the South of England were interviewed The data were analysed using the grounded theory method and three categories emerged The categories are descnbed in detail and reveal some of the problems with which the nursing profession is faced The study demonstrates how issues of finance were particularly high, with service managers sometimes negating nurses’ CPE needs However, the study reveals the real importance that nurses attatched to CPE in supporting their professional status and the real impact that CPE and knowledge have on professional competence and the quality of patient care