The RCVS has tightened up the guidance on remote prescribing, such that veterinary surgeons may now only remote prescribe for animals that are not already under their care if it is impossible to physically examine the animal. 

RCVS Council had introduced temporary guidance allowing the remote prescription of drugs for animals not under care back in March, to ensure that animal health and welfare could be maintained during lockdown without risking the health of veterinary teams or their clients.

Since then, the College has twice extended this guidance, because of the ongoing situation. 

However the College says it now recognises that many practices are returning more to 'business as usual' and that the guidance and associated flowchart should be updated according. 

Consequently, before deciding to prescribe POM-Vs remotely, the updated guidance now requires veterinary surgeons to first consider whether the animal is already under their care; or, if not, whether it is possible to physically examine the animal in order to bring the animal under their care. If the answer to both questions is ‘no’, POM-Vs may still be prescribed remotely providing the guidelines set out in the College’s coronavirus advice hub are adhered to.

Surprisingly, the College says that its surveys of the profession have thus far identified no immediate safety concerns around remote prescribing. 

RCVS President Dr Mandisa Greene, who chairs the Taskforce, said: “The reason for maintaining the possibility of remote prescribing without a physical examination was that we recognised that the current situation is unpredictable, and while the ability for the public to visit practices in person has improved over the last few months, we felt that situations might still arise where that would not be possible, and where access to remote prescribing would be necessary. These could include further local lockdowns, ongoing quarantine arrangements, and the remaining fact that some members of both the veterinary team and the public continue to shield.

“It remains our intention that this guidance will continue to be a temporary measure and may be subject to further extensions or updates given the uncertain nature of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

RCVS Council will review the position on 8 October, with any changes being effective by 1 November at the earliest.

Meanwhile, the RCVS review of ‘under care’ and out-of-hours emergency cover has now resumed, starting with a number of virtual focus groups and consultation with stakeholders within the veterinary and veterinary nursing professions.

The findings from these focus group discussions will then inform a wider survey to be sent to all veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses in early 2021, along with stakeholder organisations and the animal-owning public. Remote prescribing will continue to form a part of this review.

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