At its June meeting, to which the Presidents of the main veterinary organisations were also invited, RCVS Council agreed to a framework that allows the PSS to develop into a modular Scheme, which focuses more on behaviours and outcomes than facilities and equipment.
It also agreed to the Scheme encouraging greater differentiation between practices, particularly at General Practice level, where bronze, silver and gold categories, or similar, will be introduced. The hope is to allow practices to continue to improve and strive for higher standards, and for the Scheme to be transparent to the public.
Ideally, Core would become mandatory, but in the absence of powers of entry, the College cannot currently enforce this. However, practising to ‘Core standards or their equivalent’ remains in the Code of Professional Conduct for both vets and veterinary nurses.
Plans were also discussed around differentiation of Hospitals, so there could be General Hospitals plus those with specific designations, such as Orthopaedic Hospitals, providing certain modules have been achieved.
Agreement was given that the College and the Practice Standards Group (PSG) develop modules under the new framework and pilot them.
Council also agreed that a new IT infrastructure could be investigated, which would allow practices going through the accreditation process to easily see which modules they would need to achieve to reach different accreditations. It would also allow them to upload documentation for inspectors to view ahead of inspections, thus allowing more time on the day to concentrate on what is happening in the practice, and reducing the likelihood of additional documentation being required afterwards.
The PSG has since met to consider Council's proposals, focussing on three main areas: drafting the modules (around 20 in total), overhauling the recruitment and training of inspectors, and the IT platform. The modules are being drafted by six working groups comprising representatives of the British Veterinary Association, its main specialist divisions and other veterinary organisations, including the RCVS.
Any new Scheme is likely to be introduced during the spring of 2015 at the earliest, and there will be opportunity to provide feedback on the new developments along the way. Meanwhile, the existing Standards remain in force.
The Practice Standard (August 2013)