BVNA release results from Protect the Title surveys

The British Veterinary Nursing Association (BVNA) have today released a report detailing the results of their recent ‘Protect the Title’ surveys, following the release of preliminary results earlier in 2023. The surveys sought to obtain information from the veterinary profession and the public about their understanding and feelings about the issue of statutory protection of the title ‘veterinary nurse’ (VN), along with the potential use of unqualified staff.

The ‘Protect the Title’ surveys were completed by over 12,000 respondents between 26th September and 31st December 2022 – 8,302 members of the veterinary profession, and 3,926 members of the public. The report of survey results is now available via the BVNA website.

Headline results from the surveys included that 48% of veterinary professionals were aware of someone working in practice using the ‘veterinary nurse’ title, but who are not registered with the RCVS. The survey of the public also uncovered that, despite 92% feeling it is ‘very important’ for their pet to be cared for by a fully qualified RVN, 76% of respondents did not know the VN title can currently be used by an unqualified member of staff.

BVNA are supported in their ‘Protect the Title’ campaign by the British Veterinary Association (BVA) and the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS). Following the work of the RCVS Legislation Working Party (LWP), statutory protection of the VN title has already been recommended to the Government (Defra) by the RCVS Council. This recommendation forms part of proposals for wider legislative change to the 1966 Veterinary Surgeons Act, and BVNA anticipate that the ‘Protect the Title’ report will help to support this ongoing work.

BVNA President, Charlotte Pace, commented: “This report, which follows on from the preliminary results we published in February, gives a taste of some of the comments we received, and gives our recommendations following the survey. It is clear from this report, and the overwhelming number of responses we received, that protection of the VN title is both needed and wanted by the veterinary profession and the public. VNs said overwhelmingly, that title recognition is crucial to feeling valued in their work.

“It is vital that we keep up the pressure to get our title protected, and make not only the wider public, but also the government realise how important this issue is. Pet owners deserve to be assured that the people looking after their pets are fully trained and qualified, and VNs should be recognised for the hard work and training they go through to deliver expert care.”

British Veterinary Association President Malcolm Morley said: “Dedicated and highly skilled, veterinary nurses are critical to the care of animals in practice and essential to the smooth day-to-day running of vet businesses. It’s therefore unsurprising to see the appreciation for the good work they do reflected in the strength of feeling, from both vets and the public, who feel only nurses who are qualified and regulated should carry the title Registered Veterinary Nurse.

“What BVNA’s survey particularly highlights is a lack of awareness amongst pet owners that any unqualified person can use the title veterinary nurse while working in practice. This is concerning and demonstrates the importance and need for it to be protected to help uphold client trust as well as ensure high standards of care and animal welfare.

“The title and those who hold it deserve respect and the security of knowing it is protected and BVA will continue to support and engage with BVNA’s fight for this formal recognition. However, there’s no need for vet practices to wait, they can start to have these conversations with their teams today and put in place the changes needed.”

BVNA now intend to continue this campaign, actively working to increase public awareness of the issue, whilst also gathering more evidence which supports the LWP recommendations. Even with continued work towards legislative change, there is also an important opportunity to make change at a practice level. Ensuring staff are referred to and titled appropriately are important considerations to ensure that animal welfare and client trust are both upheld. BVNA look forward to continuing to lead these conversations surrounding protection of the VN title, and would like to thank all the participants who took the time to complete the surveys.

The ‘Protect the Title’ survey report can be found on the BVNA website here:

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