The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) has today published the results of its review of the Official Veterinarian - OCQ(V) - training qualification and revalidation process, announcing a round of changes designed to make the qualifications more relevant and easier to renew.

The main changes announced today are:

In the future, the revalidation interval, which currently ranges from two to five years depending on the course, will be standardised at 4 years.

Currently, there is a two-month window in which Official Veterinarians (OV) can submit their final declarations, on completion of the course, if they want to set their next revalidation interval from the end of the window.

The revalidation window will be extended to a six-month period prior to the completion deadline date. If completed in this window, the date of the next revalidation would be taken from the deadline date and not the date of completion. 

APHA is discussing ways of making invigilation more flexible, to help those working in sole-charge or remote practices. One option being investigated with course accreditation providers is remote invigilation, though this would come at extra cost.

All the multiple choice questions in the online exams are being reviewed to make sure they test the ability to perform the role, and in the future, candidates will be given more feedback at the end of the test (ie which questions they answered incorrectly).

In terms of CPD requirements, there will be clarification on what can be considered relevant CPD towards the 10 hours that need to be completed over the four-year timeframe. 

Lastly, APHA has announced a raft of changes concerning course content, and that it will itself review all the courses to consider how the number of courses and topics can be rationalised, how to reduce the number of qualifications any OV might need and/or the time spent revalidating, and how to reduce the content without losing quality.

The BVA, which spearheaded the campaign for reform, has welcomed the announcement. Simon Doherty, BVA President, said: "We’re delighted that APHA has taken on board our members’ concerns with the current system and proposed improvements that should make the process much more fair and consistent while continuing to maintain high standards. This is a really crucial time for ensuring that the workforce retains skilled professionals and is at full strength to keep animal welfare standards high, protect public health and meet demand for export certification after Brexit.

"This piece of work is a shining example of what can be achieved when vets pull together to air concerns and make the case for change. We will continue to work closely with APHA to explore and put in place ways of making the revalidation process as fit for purpose as possible for this critical section of the workforce."

Full review:

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