RCVS News: Animal Owners Urged to Complete Consultation on Future Governance of the Vet Professions

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), the regulator of UK veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses, is urging British pet owners to take part in a consultation on proposals for future laws that will govern the nation’s veterinary professionals and practices.

The RCVS Legislation Reform Consultation runs until Friday 23 April 2021and asks for views and feedback on a series of recommendations on how the law could be changed to allow for better and more efficient regulation of the vet-led team, more flexible and compassionate concerns investigation and disciplinary procedures, and the enhanced regulation of veterinary practices.

Although members of the public are welcome to respond to any aspect of the consultation, recommendations that may be of particular interest to animal owners are:

  • Protection in law for veterinary titles including ‘veterinary nurse’, so that only those who are appropriately trained and registered as veterinary nurses may use the title.
  • Expanding the scope of the RCVS to regulate not just veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses, but other allied professionals within the vet-led team, for example, veterinary technicians.
  • Having mandatory practice regulation because, at present, the College can only regulate individual veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses, rather than veterinary practices. This would mean the RCVS has greater scope to ensure standards are being met
  • Widening the grounds for investigating complaints made about veterinary surgeons or veterinary nurses so that the RCVS can intervene in cases where a practitioner might pose a risk to animals, the public or the public interest for reasons other than serious professional misconduct.
  • Allowing the RCVS to temporarily suspend a  a veterinary surgeon’s or veterinary nurse’s ability to practise pending the outcome of an investigation or disciplinary hearing where they may pose a significant risk to the public or to animals.
  • Introducing a wider range of sanctions for those who appear before a Disciplinary Committee including conditional or restricted practice orders.
  • Changing the standard of proof used to determine the facts of a complaint from the criminal standard (‘beyond all reasonable doubt’) to the civil standard (‘on the balance of probabilities’) in line with other healthcare regulators. 

Dr Mandisa Greene MRCVS, President of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, commented: “The views of the animal-owning public are vital for this consultation because the ultimate role of the RCVS as a regulator is to improve the health and welfare of the nation’s animals, as well as public confidence in the veterinary professions, through the standards that we set.

“As we are looking at recommendations for major changes that will, in our view, improve how we set and uphold these standards, animal-owner feedback is a crucial component, and will impact how we decide to move forward with this set of proposals.

“Please also remember, you do not need to complete the entire consultation but can choose to comment on those recommendations which are most important and relevant to you.”

The consultation can be accessed from the RCVS website at: https://www.rcvs.org.uk/news-and-views/our-consultations/legislation-working-party-report/

For further advice you can contact Eleanor Taylor, RCVS Research Officer, on e.taylor@rcvs.org.uk. The deadline for completing the consultation is Friday, 23 April 2021.

Once the consultation has finished the results will be analysed and, in due course, a series of formal recommendations for changes to the law will be made to the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs.

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