The RCVS is inviting responses from veterinary surgeons, veterinary nurses and animal owners to a call for evidence on the provision of 24-hour emergency veterinary care, in order to understand how best to meet the expectations of all those involved.

In an open letter to the profession and the public published on the RCVS website, the Chairman of the RCVS Standards Committee, Clare Tapsfield-Wright, said:

"Over the past two years, lay people working with the RCVS have raised questions about the veterinary profession's ability to provide 24/7 to the extent required by the RCVS Code of Professional Conduct, and said there is a disconnect between the public's expectations and the profession's capacity to meet those expectations."

Clare also refers to an RCVS Disciplinary Committee Inquiry in June 2013, which raised a number of issues on home visits by veterinary surgeons, including: speed of response; travelling time and distance; daytime versus out-of-hours obligations; individual versus corporate responsibility; and, staffing levels and contingency plans.

The letter is accompanied by a range of background information, including the reports of Lay Observers to the RCVS Preliminary Investigation Committee; Working Party reports from the College's 2009 consultation on 24-hour emergency cover; and, further details about the June 2013 DC Inquiry.

The College says additional feedback will be sought through next year's RCVS Survey of the Professions, and via focus group research for animal owners. Once all responses have been collated, a number of individuals and organisations will be invited to a Standards Committee meeting to present and discuss their views.

Responses in writing are invited by 5pm on Monday, 17 February 2014, and should be emailed to or posted to the Professional Conduct Department, Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, Belgravia House, 62-64 Horseferry Road, London SW1P 2AF.

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