The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) Council has agreed new measures to help UK-practising veterinary surgeons spread the cost of their annual renewal fees over the course of the calendar year in light of the impact of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.
The measures agreed by RCVS Council will allow UK-practising members who prefer not to pay their full renewal fee in one go to instead spread the cost over three instalments: paying 50% of the full cost by 30 April, 25% by 30 September, and the remaining 25% by 31 December.
Dr Kit Sturgess, Treasurer, commented: “We recognise that most veterinary businesses will be seeing a downtown during the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown, especially as veterinary practices reduce their workloads to emergency-only procedures or those that can be classed as urgent. Furthermore, we understand that many individual veterinary surgeons will no longer be working, and that this will cause financial difficulties for many vets and their families.
“We appreciate that this is a very difficult time for the profession, and as part of our compassionate approach to regulation we wanted to do our bit to help people manage the difficult financial consequences of the coronavirus crisis, and to help them to return to work as soon as Government advice allows. While fees for veterinary nurses are not due until the end of the year, we will keep the impact of the coronavirus pandemic under review on an ongoing basis.”
This policy only applies for UK-practising members, as this is the group for which the ability to work as a veterinary surgeon in the UK is contingent on being a member of the RCVS. Meanwhile, fees for other categories of membership are lower. Any UK-practising member wishing to switch to the payment-by-instalments system should cancel their existing Direct Debits immediately (the College has already temporarily deferred these direct debits for around 10-14 days to allow time for them to be cancelled).
Any member who does not pay the first instalment of 50% of the total fee by the end of April will need to pay the full amount in one instalment by the end of May. Should they then fail to make this payment, the College would then have to remove their name from the Register. Those who pay the initial 50% instalment but fail to pay one or both of the subsequent 25% instalments will be moved to the non-practising Register for up to one year. This would mean that they could transfer back to the UK-practising Register without incurring a restoration fee. However, they would no longer legally be entitled to practise as a veterinary surgeon while on the non-practising Register until they had paid the retention fee in full and been transferred back to the UK-practising Register.
RCVS Council also agreed that the higher fee that usually applies for late payments, ie those made between 1 May and 30 May, will not be applied to any category of membership this year.
Members can opt to move to the new arrangements or continue with full payment. Details of how to pay under the new arrangements will be sent to members shortly. Any member who has already paid their fee in full and would like to switch to the payment-by-instalments mechanism should contact the College on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Implementing the new payment scheme is administratively complex, but the College’s systems are now in place via www.rcvs.org.uk/myaccount. Further details about the scheme are available in a detailed Frequently Asked Questions guide via www.rcvs.org.uk/coronavirus.