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Veterinary nursing celebrates 50 years with call for statutory regulation

11 October 2011

We celebrated the 50th anniversary of veterinary nursing at the House of Commons today with a call for statutory regulation for the profession.

Houses of Parliament

At a Golden Jubilee event hosted by Mr Roger Gale MP, VN Council Chairman Liz Branscombe drew attention to the fact that there is no legal protection for the title ‘veterinary nurse’, despite qualified nurses playing “a unique role in the practice team”.

This effectively means that anyone could work in a veterinary practice as a nurse, without taking the three- or four-year training required for Listed or Registered Veterinary Nurses.

“We believe that the nation's animals and their owners deserve better than this,” said Liz. “And it's not just a question of animal welfare: public health is at risk from the incorrect use of medicines - for example, the well documented development of antimicrobial resistance.”

Registered veterinary nurses agree to follow a code of conduct, keep their skills and knowledge up to date and abide by a disciplinary system.

The legislation governing the veterinary profession is the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966, put in place only five years after the introduction of veterinary nurse training and too soon to fully recognise the potential of veterinary nursing as a profession in its own right.

As an interim measure, we have put in place a non-statutory Register for Veterinary Nurses, to which 86% of eligible nurses have signed up.

Registered veterinary nurses agree to follow a code of conduct, keep their skills and knowledge up to date and abide by a disciplinary system.

However, it is not possible for us to bar those removed from the Register for serious professional misconduct from working as a veterinary nurse.

The Register also does not address the misuse of the title ‘veterinary nurse’ by unqualified people.

Liz asked MPs present at the House of Commons reception to sign up to an Early Day Motion tabled by Andrew Rosindell MP, which calls for statutory regulation of the veterinary nursing profession [see below].

Others are urged to sign a petition on the Government’s website which has been mounted by the British Veterinary Nursing Association and which both we and the British Veterinary Association support.

The issues are being considered by our Veterinary Nurses Legislation Working Party and the group’s recommendations will feed into the wider work of our Legislation Working Party, which will be reporting to the Defra Minister of State in the summer of 2012, with proposals as to how statutory regulation could be provided for a range of veterinary services, including veterinary nursing.

 

Notes for editors

The text of the Early Day Motion is as follows:

Golden Jubilee of the veterinary nursing profession

That this House notes that the title veterinary nurse is not protected, despite all veterinary nurses listed with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) having undertaken at least two years of education and clinical veterinary nurse training to safeguard animal health and welfare, and to note that only those who are on the non-statutory RCVS Register have formally committed to keeping their skills and knowledge up to date by way of continuing professional development, to follow a code of conduct and agree to be accountable for their professional practice; and further notes that there are those calling themselves veterinary nurses who have no formal veterinary nurse education and training; and therefore calls on Government to support the work of the RCVS Veterinary Nurses Council, which is supported by the representative bodies the British Veterinary Nursing Association and the British Veterinary Association, to introduce a statutory regime for the regulation of veterinary nurses that will serve the public interest, and better protect animal health and welfare.

 

The text of the e-petition is as follows:

How should veterinary nurses be regulated in the future?

The title veterinary nurse is not protected, despite all veterinary nurses listed with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) having undertaken at least two years of training in order to safeguard animal health and welfare. Only those who are on the non-statutory RCVS Register have formally committed to keeping their skills and knowledge up to date by way of continuing professional development, follow a code of conduct and agree to be accountable for their professional practice. Meanwhile, there are individuals who call themselves veterinary nurses who have no formal veterinary nurse education and training. We the undersigned therefore call on Government to support the work of the RCVS Veterinary Nurses Council, the British Veterinary Nursing Association and the British Veterinary Association to introduce a statutory regime for the regulation of veterinary nurses that will serve the public interest, and better protect animal health and welfare.

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