The RCVS has begun the final stage of its review of the definition of ‘under care’ and the provision of 24/7 emergency cover, and is now consulting veterinary surgeons, veterinary nurses, students and the wider veterinary team on its proposed new guidance.

The review started with a series of focus groups amongst veterinary professionals across multiple sectors.

This was followed by an analysis of the information gleaned from the focus groups, additional stakeholder submissions, data from the College's Covid surveys, independent research studies and formal legal advice to formulate an online qualitative survey to gain the views and feedback of UK-based veterinary professionals.

In this final stage, the public consultation, all veterinary professionals, vet and vet nurse students, practice managers and all those who work in the veterinary practice team are invited to share the extent to which they agree (or disagree) with each element of the proposed new guidance on ‘under care’, their views on the requirements for a 24/7 follow-up service following a remote prescription and other safeguards, and their feedback on the proposed definition of limited-service providers.

There will also be a consultation with members of the animal-owning public, which will likely include questions asking for information about animal owner experiences with remote prescriptions, the perceived advantages and/or disadvantages of remote prescribing, and views on 24/7 care and how important a service this is to respondents.

Dr Melissa Donald MRCVS, RCVS President and former Chair of the Standards Committee, said: “The past two years have shown us that the veterinary professions are highly capable of adopting new ways of working.

"It also revealed that we can adapt our established ways of practice to better respond to shifts in public expectations and advancements in technology.

"However, it is our collective responsibility to ensure that any changes continue to allow us to provide safe and effective care for our patients, and meet the appropriate expectations of our clients.

“Whilst we recognise and reflect on the need for change, the proposed guidance seeks to protect animal health and welfare and maintain public trust by ensuring that decision-making remains firmly in the hands of individual veterinary surgeons, as to what they, in their professional judgement, consider appropriate in a specific situation.

“This consultation, then, while not a referendum on whether RCVS guidance on ‘under care’ and 24-hour emergency first-aid and pain relief should change – that decision having been made by Standards Committee and approved by Council based on the evidence gathered, including the views of the profession and objective evidence, and legal advice – is a crucial opportunity for veterinary colleagues to tell us whether we have got the draft guidance right, whether the proposed safeguards are sufficient, and whether there is anything we might have missed or should amend.”

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