The relevant section of the Government advice states: "This [key worker status] includes those involved in food production, processing, distribution, sale and delivery, as well as those essential to the provision of other key goods (for example hygienic and veterinary medicines)."
The RCVS/BVA statement, which is intended to help veterinary surgeons decide whether or not they can claim ‘key worker’ status and ask for their children to continue to be taken into schools, reminds veterinary surgeons to consider the wider societal picture and ensure that they only claim ‘key worker’ status if absolutely necessary.
The statement also stresses that the RCVS Code of Professional Conduct responsibility of the veterinary surgeon to take steps to provide 24-hour emergency first aid and pain relief to animals according to their skills and the specific situation continues, and veterinary practices will need to continue to carry out this work. It is important that animal owners are able to focus on their own health, and not need to worry about their pets. Both the RCVS and BVA believe that veterinary surgeons who are providing this essential work can be considered key workers.
The statement in full is as follows:
Veterinary surgeons as key workers in relation to school closures
RCVS and BVA appreciate that veterinary surgeons will feel a great deal of uncertainty at the present time, and that many will be facing considerable difficulties due to the closure of schools for most pupils.
The official government advice can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-educational-provision/guidance-for-schools-colleges-and-local-authorities-on-maintaining-educational-provision.
The guidance emphasises that if children can be at home then they should be, in order to help to prevent the virus from spreading.
The government has granted key worker status by sector rather than profession. Some veterinary work will definitely fall into the ‘key worker’ category. RCVS and BVA are therefore providing some additional advice below, following consultation with the UK Chief Veterinary Officer:
SummaryAt this time the provision of public health and the maintenance of food production need to take priority, and veterinary surgeons working in these areas should be considered key workers.
Veterinary surgeons working in emergency care can also be considered key workers. This will not apply to every veterinary surgeon in clinical practice, and practices may need to consider rationalising their services to achieve this.
The guidance has been welcomed by both the BSAVA and BEVA. David Mountford, Chief Executive of BEVA said: "As veterinary professionals we are duty-bound to provide essential care, relieve suffering and protect the health of the public. Recognition as key workers in such circumstances is welcomed but we would encourage vets to only add to the burden faced by schools where animal welfare is at risk and all other avenues have been explored."
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