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Further decisions to EMS placements announced

Further decisions to EMS placements announced

RCVS and Veterinary Schools Council announce further supportive measures for veterinary students

Further measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus and its associated restrictions impact on veterinary students have been announced by the RCVS.

Before the government 'lockdown', the RCVS reduced the number of weeks extra-mural studies (EMS) that final-year students must undertake to 30 weeks. This was owing to the difficulties that may be involved in finding and completing placements before graduation.

Now, in response to the restrictions that have been introduced since then, the RCVS has further reviewed EMS requirements concerning students currently in their fourth year and below.

The decision is that current fourth-year students should not be prevented from graduating providing they have completed their 12 weeks pre-clinical EMS and at least 50 per cent (13 weeks) of clinical EMS. This is in addition to demonstrating that they have achieved all RCVS Day One Competences.

The decision was reached by the RCVS' COVID-19 Taskforce in collaboration with the Veterinary Schools Council (VSC).

“Although the longer-term impact of the restrictions on veterinary business is currently unknown, it is reasonable to assume that there may be longer-term challenges around EMS placements that may continue beyond the time at which restrictions are revoked,” commented Sue Paterson, chair of the RCVS Education Committee and a member of the COVID-19 Taskforce.

“The impact of the constraints imposed will differ across different vet school curricula. However, the impact on all students currently in their fourth year of study is likely to be significant.”

She continued: “We understand that the vet schools will do all they can to continue to provide a world-class veterinary education to their students during the pandemic and do their best to support their students in completing their EMS. These efforts are very much appreciated. We would also like to thank members of the Veterinary Schools Council for discussing and agreeing to implement these temporary changes.”

The COVID-19 Taskforce also considered the impact of the pandemic and its restrictions on third-year veterinary students. The decision was made to keep this under review because, while there may be an impact on these students in terms of the EMS they can complete, this is likely to be less than for those in their final year.

Third-year veterinary students

It was also discussed and agreed that, as veterinary schools may need to introduce alternative assessment methods for their students, then they would need to notify the RCVS regarding the nature of the changes. This is in addition to the quality assurance measures being put in place to ensure standards are not compromised.

The RCVS said that these changes would then be monitored by the RCVS Primary Qualifications Subcommittee, to ensure they meet with the College’s accreditation standards.

“We recognise that the constraints resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic mean that vet schools will need to implement alternative methods of assessment and strategies for implementation,” Sue Paterson continued.

“While we do not prescribe the specific approach that should be used for assessment, as different approaches may be appropriate depending on the curriculum model, our accreditation standards do require that the approach to assessment is robust, valid and reliable in providing assurance that Day One Competencies have been achieved by students upon graduation.”

Veterinary nursing students

The RCVS Veterinary Nurses (VN) Council is set to meet next week to consider if further changes regarding veterinary nursing students are possible in response to the ongoing pandemic.

Further information about the COIVD-19 pandemic and its restrictions on the veterinary professions can be found at www.rcvs.org.uk/coronavirus

Veterinary practices urged to complete COVID-19 survey

Veterinary practices urged to complete COVID-19 survey

Survey will shape the RCVS' ongoing response to the crisis

Veterinary practices are being urged to complete an RCVS survey 'as soon as they can' to help the College gauge the impact of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak on clinical practice.
 
The survey, which has been emailed to veterinary practice representatives across the UK, will also help the RCVS shape the College’s ongoing response to the crisis, including its discussions with the government.
 
It includes questions on how and whether the pandemic has affected the practice's approach to providing 24/7 emergency care, how the pandemic has affected turnover; and whether staff have been furloughed.
 
The RCVS is asking that just one person in each practice who is best placed to answer the questions completes the survey. The data collected will be anonymous, although the results of the survey will be shared with the government and other veterinary organisations and will also be published.
 
“We have received a great deal of anecdotal evidence via emails, contacts and social media on how the COVID-19 pandemic, and the restrictions put in place by the UK Government in response to it, is affecting veterinary businesses and professionals” explains RCVS CEO, Lizzie Lockett.
 
“However, in order to have the evidence-base to take a well-informed view of how it is impacting the profession, we would urge representatives from practices across the UK to complete this survey as soon as they can. It is crucial that we have this information to help further RCVS policy decisions and ongoing conversations with government, where appropriate.”
 
She continued: “We recognise that this is an extremely difficult time for everyone and completing a survey may not be at the top of your list of priorities. However, those who do complete the survey will be making a vital contribution to helping us shape the most effective response to the unprecedented challenges we face. Reflecting this, we anticipate re-running the survey to track the situation on the ground over the coming weeks and months.”
 
As the data must reflect a specific point in time, the deadline for completing the survey is 6 pm on Tuesday 7 April. If any UK veterinary practice believes they have not received the survey via email, please contact Anthony Roberts on a.roberts@rcvs.org.uk for checks to be made.

Clinician selected for leading female researcher development programme

Clinician selected for leading female researcher development programme

RVC's Dr Abbe Crawford selected for fourth round of SUSTAIN

An RVC clinician has been selected for a leading female researcher development programme.

Neurology and neurosurgery clinician Dr Abbe Crawford has been selected for the fourth round of SUSTAIN, a training and development initiative, which supports female researchers in their first independent position within the scientific community.

Dr Crawfords research centres on brain abnormalities associated with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD), the most common lethal genetic disorder diagnosed in childhood. Using various techniques to study brain function in the diseased state, her research aims to understand why DMD patients show abnormal brain function and to ultimately develop therapeutic strategies to overcome these brain deficits.

Being a member of SUSTAIN will allow Dr Crawford to join a network of early-career female researchers. The programme runs for one year and will include mentoring from Academy Fellows, peer-coaching and a series of bespoke training workshops.

“I feel very lucky to be joining the SUSTAIN programme. It is a wonderful opportunity to become part of a supportive cohort of like-minded female researchers and to receive training from leading experts in a range of key, yet often undertaught, areas including mentorship, negotiation, and digital resilience,” said Dr Crawford.

“This course comes at an ideal time as I try to develop an independent research programme through my work with colleagues at the Royal Veterinary College. I am confident that the skills, knowledge and support network I will gain from this course will build upon the RVC’s ongoing support and allow me to develop and thrive as I begin this exciting chapter of my career.”

Professor Jonathan Elliott, vice-principal for research and innovation at the RVC, added: “We are incredibly excited about Abbe’s selection in this programme and take great pride in watching her research and career go from strength-to-strength.

“The RVC is renowned for its research excellence and we are committed to supporting all of our colleagues as they pursue their own personal development. In particular, there is an urgent need to develop the research careers of veterinary clinical scientists who work at the interface between veterinary and human health in the way that Abbe is doing”.

 

AMTRA welcomes VMD prescribing and supply changes

AMTRA welcomes VMD prescribing and supply changes

New approach will maintain essential distribution channel for animal medicines)

The Animal Medicines Training Regulatory Authority (AMTRA) has welcomed changes made by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) to the way certain animal medicines can be prescribed and supplied during the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis.

Announced this week, the policy allows registered animal medicine advisors (RAMAs) – otherwise known as SQPs - to prescribe and authorise the supply of animal medicines remotely, providing strict procedures are observed. This includes wormers, flukicides, flea treatments and vaccinations.

Under the new approach, the RAMA/SQP is still responsible for the prescription and supply and therefore must:

  • be the person that has the conversation/consultation with the animal owner
  • be the person that makes the prescribing decision
  • be satisfied that the person handing over or dispatching the prescribed product is competent to do so.

“In the current circumstances, if the only available RAMA/SQP at a registered premises is self-isolating, those requirements would prevent in-person supervision,” Stephen Dawson, AMTRA secretary general, explains.

”Enforcing those rules would also limit the possibility for the RAMA to be working from home in an effort to limit the number of people on the business premises.

He added: “AMTRA welcomes this new approach during the new unique challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This will maintain the essential distribution channel for animal medicines while safeguarding the health and safety of staff and customers.”

The approach has been adopted across the companion animal, farm, and equine sectors and will remain in place until at least 30 April 2020.

 

New measures to help vets spread renewal fee cost

New measures to help vets spread renewal fee cost

UK-practising members can split fee into three instalments

In light of the continuing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the RCVS is introducing new measures to help veterinary surgeons spread the cost of their annual renewal fees. It also announced that it will be waiving late payment fees.

The new policy, which applies to UK-practising members only, will allow those who would prefer not to – or are currently unable to pay their annual renewal fee in full - to spread the cost over three instalments: paying 50 per cent of the fee by 30 April, 25 per cent by September and the remaining 25 per cent by 31 December.

“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,” explained RCVS treasurer Dr Kit Sturgess. “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.”

Fees for veterinary nurses are not due until the end of the year, but the RCVS said that it will be reviewing the impact of the coronavirus pandemic “on an ongoing basis”. The policy only applies to 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.

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.

Further details about the policy are available on the RCVS website.

RCVS agrees 25 per cent reduction in CPD requirement during 2020

RCVS agrees 25 per cent reduction in CPD requirement during 2020

Reduction to help relieve pressure on vets and vet nurses during COVID-19 pandemic

In response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the government measures to reduce its transmission, the RCVS has agreed to reduce the annual requirement of hours of continuing professional development (CPD) that veterinary professionals are expected to undertake in 2020 by 25 per cent.

The annual minimal requirement for veterinary surgeons will be lowered from 35 to 26 hours, and requirements for veterinary nurses will be reduced from 15 to 11 hours. A 25 per cent reduction will also be introduced for those holding Advanced Practitioner or RCVS Specialist status, as maintaining these statuses requires additional hours of CPD.

The decision was made on Monday 30 March by the new RCVS Council COVID-19 Taskforce, which was established in order to make temporary policy decisions related to the pandemic. The reduction will come into force immediately, to help veterinary surgeons and nurses who are facing considerable challenges at present and in the coming weeks and months.

RCVS president Dr Niall Connell, who also chairs the COVID-19 Taskforce, said: “As a compassionate regulator, we recognise that although some veterinary professionals have seen a reduced workload, there remains immense pressure on very many members of the professions to juggle professional and family, childcare and other caring responsibilities in very difficult circumstances.

“A number of veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses expressed concern that it may be difficult to undertake CPD at present and so, in order to give the professions some breathing space, we decided we would reduce the minimum hours required for 2020. We also recognise that some practices are having to make the difficult decision to reduce their CPD budgets this year in response to falling footfall.

“However, it is worth reiterating that CPD need not be expensive or require physical attendance at lectures, congresses or other events. There are many online providers of CPD and other resources such as articles and webinars, some of which may be free. The key is that the CPD is relevant to you and enhances your professional practice and so we would still encourage all our members to undertake CPD as and when they can.”

The policy will be reviewed regularly and may be extended further if necessary. The RCVS asks those with any questions on the new policy change to contact the RCVS Education Department at cpd@rcvs.org.uk

Bova UK offers direct delivery service to support vets during COVID-19 pandemic

Bova UK offers direct delivery service to support vets during COVID-19 pandemic

New system to improve social distancing in practices

In an effort to support veterinary practices during the COVID-19 pandemic, Bova UK has announced the launch of a new product delivery service.

The service will allow veterinary surgeons to order products that can then be sent directly to clients, while the product order invoice is sent to the practice. According to Bova UK, this measure will help reduce footfall in practice, protecting veterinary teams from non-essential contact, while also encouraging customers to stay loyal to their practice.

Professor Mark Bowen FRCVS from the University of Nottingham said: “The RCVS decision to allow telemedicine provides the profession with a safe way to continue to provide assessment and treatment of horses within the UK.”

“By using direct supply of medicines to the customer we further reduce the risks associated with clinical practice in theses challenging times. Direct supply to clients also reduces any delay in providing medicines, reducing our requirement to hold stock of these medicines. ‘Specials’ remain accessible only to veterinary professionals and therefore this service is only available to vets.”

Bova UK has updated its website to streamline the ordering service. Veterinary practices can login or register, select the relevant product and then input all the necessary information regarding the owner and their pet. Bova UK will then use this information to administer an extra label for dosing information.

For any queries or to register for an account, please visit www.bova.co.uk or contact the Bova UK customer services team on 020 3034 3100.

Veterinary profession praised for COVID-19 response

Veterinary profession praised for COVID-19 response

RSPCA thanks veterinary staff for their continued support

The RSPCA has thanked the veterinary profession for its continued support during the COVID-19 coronavirus lockdown.

The animal charity is working tirelessly to maintain an emergency animal welfare service, but said there may be occasions where it is unable to attend cases, and that this demand could impact local veterinary practices.

RSPCA chief veterinary officer Caroline Allen praised vets who were continuing to provide essential care to animals during this difficult time:

“This is an incredibly challenging time for the RSPCA, trying to advise the public and keeping emergency services going with fewer staff, strained resources and in line with Government advice,” she said. “I know this is equally stressful and challenging for vet staff too and I wanted to say a huge thank you from everyone at the RSPCA for your hard work, dedication and support you are giving the RSPCA.”

The RSPCA has a team of frontline officers, 17 animals centres, four wildlife centres and four animal hospitals across England and Wales. Current guidance from the BVA defines emergency and urgent treatment as:

Emergency: Immediate threat to life; significant impact on health/welfare and likely to deteriorate if left unmanaged. Previously these cases that would have been seen out of hours, or fitted in on the same day.

Urgent: Significant impact on health/welfare but currently stable, or moderate impact but significant risk of deterioration.

The animal welfare charity said there are some circumstances where animals have been subject to abuse or severe neglect, and may not initially appear to be an “emergency” in the traditional sense. But it stressed that its officers will still be collecting them 'if there is a significant impact on health/welfare and likely to deteriorate if left unmanaged,’ as set out in the BVA emergency criteria.

Ms Allen continued: “Our National Control Centre will also be following the guidance from the BVA and will be limiting, wherever possible, sending members of the public to vets. However, on occasions where there is a welfare need that would justify an essential journey, we will always ask members of the public to call practices first and follow their social distancing protocols.

“We do understand and appreciate the current restrictions being put in place by the BVA and we do understand the very serious strain on practices and teams at this time and we hope that we can continue to work together during this unprecedented time.”

Image (C) RSPCA.

AnimalHealthEurope confirms no current problems with veterinary medicine supply

AnimalHealthEurope confirms no current problems with veterinary medicine supply

Advises vets to contact company representatives as the situation evolves

AnimalHealthEurope – representative of 90 per cent of European manufacturers of animal health products – has confirmed that there are currently no supply problems for veterinary medicines, despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

In a written address to stakeholders and industry professionals, secretary general of AnimalHealthEurope Roxane Feller said: “We are pleased to confirm that the European Commission, in the updated guidelines for Green Lanes, has designated veterinary medicines as ‘essential goods', so that we can continue to ensure access to medicines for livestock farmers, veterinarians and other animal owners.”

The secretary general also stated that currently:

  • member companies report no anticipated shortages of products
  • AnimalHealthEurope’s national associations confirm that no local companies have reported any supply or manufacturing issues at this time
  • the European animal health industry does not currently foresee any supply interruptions.

However, AnimalHealthEurope advised all veterinary professionals to contact company representatives in order to determine product availability should any issues arise, and to help them identify any possible alternatives in the event of a delayed supply.

Livestock and aquaculture farmers are also advised to contact their veterinary surgeons with any concerns over the supply of animal health products.

The association added that, as the disease situation is constantly developing, there is still uncertainty around future developments regarding availability of staff, sourcing of active ingredients and its ability to continue full production, concluding: “It is therefore extremely difficult to share any prediction on the continued supply of medicines beyond the short term.”

Essential care guidance for veterinary practices

Essential care guidance for veterinary practices

What constitutes an essential veterinary service?

The UK government has updated its list of premises that can remain open during the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak to include veterinary surgeries. In light of this move, this article aims to provide guidance on what constitutes emergency and essential care.

It is important to stress that veterinary practices provide a number of essential services, and can only run emergency services for a few days before the essential services start to build up.

Emergency services
These are services that must be done urgently. Examples of veterinary emergencies requiring immediate attention include difficulty breathing, severe bleeding, collapse, some seizures, road traffic accidents and difficult calvings.

Essential services
These are services that must be done but not necessarily urgently. These services include the provision of non-routine operations and essential medicines, the nursing care of wounds, some immunisations and ongoing medical treatments.

Every veterinary practice needs to form its own opinion of what it considers essential and to make a decision based on this.

Social distancing and face-to-face contact
It is vital that all veterinary practices take steps to introduce social distancing measures to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 between people. These measures should be carried out in addition to increased handwashing and good respiratory hygiene. More information about social distancing can be found here.

It is also advised that the number of clients seen face-to-face should be kept to an absolute minimum. Please click here for advice in how to reduce face-to-face contact in veterinary practices.

MRCVSOnline will endeavour to keep the profession updated on COVID-19 coronavirus as the situation unfolds. Please don't hesitate to contact us with any ideas or suggestions as to how we can help with measures to control the spread of the virus.

Looking after your mental health

Looking after your mental health

Guidance from veterinary mental health charity, Vetlife

In light of the government's advice on social distancing, mental health charity Vetlife has put together comprehensive guidance concerning the impact on mental health for the veterinary profession during the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.

Here we have pulled out some of the charity's key information and advice. For the full document, and advice for those already struggling with their mental health, please click here.

Information overload

While it is important to stay up-to-date with the evolving situation, Vetlife recommends that people only look for information updates at specific times of the day. Watching, listening or reading news once or twice a day from a trusted source will limit how much information you are exposed to and can prevent feelings of anxiety and distress.

An individual's control of the current situation is very limited, and therefore overexposure to news can only increase worry and may even enable the spread of misinformation.

Maintaining connections
Self-isolation, social distancing and quarantine rules mean that we may now have very limited contact with our friends and family during this time. However, being able to still contact our loved ones during this pandemic is crucial for our mental well-being.

Vetlife suggests trying to maintain and structure in regular social contact using social media, video calls or telephone. Indeed, many families are now hosting virtual birthday parties or online pub quizzes!

While self-isolation can make you feel withdrawn and less likely to want to reach out to others, you must do so, even if it does feel very difficult.

A sense of routine
If you've suddenly found yourself working from home, you might be feeling a little lost - especially if you are now also looking after children or vulnerable people who may also be self-isolating.

Keeping to usual timings can help you to cope with this sudden change and maintain a sense of normality. For example, going to bed and getting up at the usual time and eating when you would normally do so.

Increasing the amount of contact you have with friends and family by phone or telephone can also be a massive help during this difficult time.

Look after yourself

Sleep and rest are vital for our mental health and, under this increasing pressure, they are more important than ever.

As caring professionals, you might naturally turn to look after others before you care for yourself. But you must take some time out for yourself to rest, sleep, eat regular meals and stay hydrated.

Vetlife recommends prioritising rest days and breaks where you can. More advice about sleep can be found at https://ep.bmj.com/content/102/3/127

What can you control?
Vetlife states that you should identify aspects of your life and work which you can control and maintain these. During times of adversity, having a sense of control is important, even if it is only over very small things.

For more help and advice, the Vetlife Helpline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for confidential support. To contact Vetlife, please call 0303 040 2551 or click here to send an anonymous email.

RCVS to temporarily allow remote prescribing

RCVS to temporarily allow remote prescribing

"Remote prescribing should only take place where no other option is available"

The RCVS has announced that it is to temporarily allow for the remote prescribing of veterinary medicines where appropriate and where complying with government advice leaves no suitable alternative.

The decision comes in response to the government's current guidance on reducing the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus by limiting all-but-essential contact with others.

RCVS president Niall Connell said: “In these unprecedented times we recognise that undertaking a physical examination of an animal may no longer be safe for people or practicable under the restrictions on movement and contact that the UK Government has recommended and is likely to enforce.

“Vets and vet nurses will always have animal health and welfare as their key professional priority, but they must now prioritise their personal safety and that of their practice teams and clients, and do as much as they can to ensure the protection of public health. Personal and public safety overrides animal welfare.”

RCVS and VN Councils elections get underway

RCVS and VN Councils elections get underway

Votes must be cast online or by post by Friday 24 April

Voting for the 2020 RCVS and VN Councils elections has got underway, with eligible veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses able to vote either online or by postal ballot.

In a press release, RCVS Registrar Eleanor Ferguson, said: “With all that is happening currently, we are glad to say that we have been able to continue with business as usual as far as the RCVS and VN Councils elections are concerned, albeit with some minor delays on publishing the candidate videos.”

This year there are 13 candidates standing in the VN Council elections, including two existing VN Council members eligible for re-election and 11 members not currently on Council. They are as follows:

  • Samantha Anderson
  • Jessica Beckett
  • Kirsten Cavill
  • Rebecca Clark
  • Dorothy (Dot) Creighton
  • Lindsey Dodd
  • Emma Foreman
  • Racheal Marshall
  • Megan Oakey
  • Susannah Phillips
  • Matthew Rendle
  • Claire Roberts
  • Cathy Woodlands

In this year's RCVS Council election there are eight members standing, including three existing Council members and five members not currently on Council. They are:

  • John Davies
  • Dr Melissa Donald
  • Dr Tom Lonsdale
  • Professor Stephen May
  • Dr Kate Richards
  • Peter Robinson
  • Dr Richard Stephenson
  • Dr Kit Sturgess

Details of all the above candidates together with ballot papers have been posted to all veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses who are eligible to vote. Emails containing links to the secure election voting sites have also been sent to each member of the electorate by Civica Election Services.

Eleanor added: “It is very encouraging that, after a two-year absence, the VN Council elections have come back stronger with a field of 13 candidates, and we hope that this will translate into increased turnout. Likewise with the RCVS Council election, we hope that the year-on-year trend for increased turnout will continue.”

All votes, either by online or by post, must be cast by 5pm on Friday 24 April 2020. Contact details, biographies and manifestos for each candidate can be found at rcvs.org.uk/vetvote20 and rcvs.org.uk/vnvote20

Animal Health Trust warns of 'imminent closure'

Animal Health Trust warns of 'imminent closure'

Trustees and executives seeking emergency funding

The Animal Health Trust has announced that it will be closing 'imminently' unless emergency funding can be found.

In a statement, the charity said the announcement follows a period of 'dire financial constraint' and the economic impact of COVID-19 - both of which have had a direct effect on funding.

The charity said that it is continuing to seek emergency funds, including the potential use of  government schemes – but without urgent input is likely to close 'at the end of this month'.

Established in 1942, the Animal Health Trust is the leading veterinary and scientific research charity dedicated to the health and welfare of animals. The organisation employs more than 250 people, including vets, nurses, scientists and support staff.

The full statement, in full, is as follows:

'We are devastated to announce that following a period of dire financial constraints, and now with the economic implications of Covid-19 having a direct effect on funding, our charity is facing imminent closure.

The Animal Health Trust has been in existence for more than 75 years and makes a significant difference to the health and welfare of animals.

Much of the work we do is unique, and without us, this work will cease, putting thousands of animals at risk from disease and injury.

The Trustees and Executive Committee continue to seek emergency funding, including the potential use of recently announced Government Schemes, in order to save the unparalleled knowledge and expertise the organisation houses, but without an urgent input of significant funds the charity is likely to close at the end of this month.

We are working with our 257 members of staff to support them through this difficult time.

Further updates will be available in due course'.

RCVS/BVA guidance regarding 'key workers'

RCVS/BVA guidance regarding 'key workers'

Government has granted key worker status by sector rather than profession.

The RCVS and the BVA have released a joint statement regarding government guidance about who qualifies as 'key workers' in relation to the closure of schools.

The RCVS/BVA statement, which is published in full below, is intended to help veterinary surgeons decide whether or not they can claim ‘key worker’ status and ask for their children to continue to be taken into schools. It reminds veterinary surgeons to consider the wider societal picture, and ensure that they only claim ‘key worker’ status if absolutely necessary.

The statement in full is as follows:

Veterinary surgeons as key workers in relation to school closures

RCVS and BVA appreciate that veterinary surgeons will feel a great deal of uncertainty at the present time, and that many will be facing considerable difficulties due to the closure of schools for most pupils.

The official government advice can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-educational-provision/guidance-for-schools-colleges-and-local-authorities-on-maintaining-educational-provision

The guidance emphasises that if children can be at home then they should be, in order to help to prevent the virus from spreading.

The government has granted key worker status by sector rather than profession. Some veterinary work will definitely fall into the ‘key worker’ category. RCVS and BVA are therefore providing some additional advice below, following consultation with the UK Chief Veterinary Officer.

Vets carrying out work linked to food production

Veterinary surgeons working in food production from ‘farm to fork’ are considered to be key workers. This includes:

  • Farm vets
  • Official Veterinarians working in the food chain, including abattoir and other related inspection and certification work.

Vets working in emergency care

The responsibility of the veterinary surgeon to take steps to provide 24-hour emergency first aid and pain relief to animals according to their skills and the specific situation continues, and veterinary practices will need to continue to carry out this work. It is important that animal owners are able to focus on their own health, and not need to worry about their pets. Veterinary surgeons who are providing this essential work can be considered key workers.
 
Other companion animal practice work

In light of the Government guidance published on 19 March it is not clear that veterinary surgeons working in companion animal practice can be considered key workers. Veterinary surgeons should consider the possibility of reputational damage to the profession if vets doing work which could be regarded as non-essential claim key worker status at this time, given that we are facing a public health emergency. Anyone doing so must be confident that their claim to key worker status is defensible.

Practices may need to rationalise their work and ultimately this must be a decision for individual veterinary surgeons and veterinary practices.

Summary

At this time the provision of public health and the maintenance of food production need to take priority, and veterinary surgeons working in these areas should be considered key workers.

Veterinary surgeons working in emergency care can also be considered key workers. This will not apply to every veterinary surgeon in clinical practice, and practices may need to consider rationalising their services to achieve this.

RCVS suspends Practice Standards Scheme assessments

RCVS suspends Practice Standards Scheme assessments

Cancellation part of new social distancing measures

The RCVS has announced that the Practice Standards Scheme, which quality assures practices and their facilities, has suspended all its assessment visits until 1 May 2020.

The decision was made following the UK government advice for everyone to practise social distancing in order to reduce transmission of COVID-19 in the UK.

According to the RCVS, veterinary practices with accreditation, re-accreditation and award visits scheduled to take place before 1 May 2020 have already been contacted regarding the cancellations.

Lead Practice Standards Scheme assessor Pam Mosedale said: “We are very sorry for any inconvenience this may cause, but based on the UK Government’s advice and our duty of care to our team of Assessors, as well as team members and clients at veterinary practices, our only option was to postpone and reschedule all visits in the short-term.

“Although we have cancelled all assessments until the end of April, we will be constantly monitoring the situation over the coming weeks, and it is likely that there may be some further postponement of assessments planned for May and beyond.”

The Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) has also confirmed that it has postponed any inspections due in the coming weeks. Please click here.

For further information and advice, please contact the Practice Standards Team at pss@rcvs.org.uk or 02072020767.