At the meeting of RCVS Council on Thursday 4 June 2020, members agreed to consult on a set of recommendations that would see wide-scale changes to the legislative framework governing the regulation of the veterinary professions.
The Report of the Legislation Working Party (LWP) contained a series of recommendations on the shape of the future legislation governing the veterinary professions and the principles that would underpin this legislation, such as the need for greater clarity, the incorporation of the entire vet-led team under one regulatory banner, and introducing greater flexibility and future-proofing.
The LWP was set up in 2017 to consider the principles governing any new legislation affecting veterinary regulation and come up with recommendations for what innovations could and should be included in any future replacement for the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966. The group comprises members of RCVS Council, RCVS staff and representatives from the British Veterinary Association and the British Veterinary Nursing Association, and has also made extensive use of external advice from other regulators and experts.
The approved recommendations were grouped into five key headings: embracing the vet-led team; enhancing the veterinary nurse role; assuring practice standards; introducing a modern ‘fitness to practise’ regime; and, modernising RCVS registration processes.
Some of the key individual recommendations include:
- Embracing the vet-led team: giving RCVS powers to regulate all paraprofessionals in the vet-led team on a statutory basis; making delegation by a veterinary surgeon to a paraprofessional (including veterinary nurses) more flexible – which includes separating the act of delegation from employment; statutory protection of professional titles – including veterinary nurses.
- Enhancing the VN role: extending the role of veterinary nurses in anaesthesia; allowing veterinary nurses to carry out cat castrations; and exploring the possibility of a VN prescriber role.
- Assuring practice regulation: making the regulation of veterinary practices mandatory, supported by powers of entry; and giving the RCVS powers to issue improvement notices to veterinary practices.
- Introduce a modern, compassionate ‘fitness to practise’ regime: refocussing the disciplinary system on issues of current capability and impairment of fitness to practise rather than past misconduct; introducing powers of interim suspension orders for veterinary professionals under investigation; and, introducing a wider range of sanctions for the Disciplinary Committee.
- Modernising RCVS registration: introducing provisions to allow limited licensure, including for those with disabilities; empower the RCVS to be able to introduce regular revalidation for veterinary professionals; underpin continuing professional development (CPD) on a mandatory basis