The body that oversees veterinary surgeons is calling on members of the public to take part in a consultation about future legal governance.
The consultation is being run by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS), which is the regulator of UK veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses. It wants to know pet and animal owners’ views on a range of proposed laws that will govern the nation’s veterinary professionals and practices.
The RCVS Legislation Reform Consultation runs until Friday April 23. It asks for views and feedback on a series of recommendations on how the law could be changed to allow for better and more efficient regulation of the vet-led team, including more flexible and compassionate investigations and disciplinary procedures, and the enhanced regulation of veterinary practices.
Although members of the public are welcome to respond to any aspect of the consultation, recommendations that may be of particular interest to animal owners are:
> Protection in law for veterinary titles including ‘veterinary nurse’, so that only those who are appropriately trained and registered as veterinary nurses may use the title.
> Expanding the scope of the RCVS to regulate not just veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses, but other allied professionals within the vet-led team, for example, veterinary technicians.
> Having mandatory practice regulation because, at present, the College can only regulate individual veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses, rather than veterinary practices. This would mean the RCVS has greater scope to ensure standards are being met.
> Widening the grounds for investigating complaints made about veterinary surgeons or veterinary nurses so that the RCVS can intervene in cases where a practitioner might pose a risk to animals, the public or the public interest for reasons other than serious professional misconduct.
> Allowing the RCVS to temporarily suspend a veterinary surgeon’s or veterinary nurse’s ability to practice, pending the outcome of an investigation or disciplinary hearing where they may pose a significant risk to the public or to animals.
> Introducing a wider range of sanctions for those who appear before a Disciplinary Committee including conditional or restricted practice orders.
> Changing the standard of proof used to determine the facts of a complaint from the criminal standard (‘beyond all reasonable doubt’) to the civil standard (‘on the balance of probabilities’) in line with other healthcare regulators.
Dr Mandisa Greene MRCVS, president of the RCVS, said: “The views of the animal-owning public are vital for this consultation because the ultimate role of the RCVS as a regulator is to improve the health and welfare of the nation’s animals, as well as public confidence in the veterinary professions, through the standards that we set.
“As we are looking at recommendations for major changes that will, in our view, improve how we set and uphold these standards, animal-owner feedback is a crucial component and will impact how we decide to move forward with this set of proposals.
“Please also remember, you do not need to complete the entire consultation but can choose to comment on those recommendations which are most important and relevant to you.”
The consultation can be accessed from the RCVS website at: www.rcvs.org.uk/consultation