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01.

Please note that the below guidance regarding ‘Critical/Key Worker’ status is relevant for the purposes of childcare places and will not apply while schools and nurseries are fully open to all year groups, which will vary by country.

We updated our key guidance for veterinary professionals (FAQ 2 and FAQ 4) on 6 January in light of the announcement by the UK Prime Minister and the leaders of the devolved nations of new, lockdown restrictions in response to the increasing severity of the coronavirus pandemic.

In addition to updating the key guidance, we and the British Veterinary Association (BVA) have sought clarification from the four UK Chief Veterinary Officers over the status of veterinary professionals as critical/ key workers in relation to being able to secure childcare, which varies by nation within the UK.

The latest guidance is set out below – please click on the drop-down below that is relevant to your nation.

Please note: much of the following guidance relates to veterinary surgeons, unless otherwise stated. With regard to veterinary nurses, the President of the British Veterinary Nursing Association published a statement on Key Workers on 6 January 2021.

England

The Cabinet Office has recently (13 January 2021) confirmed that only veterinary surgeons working in food supply are to be classed as critical workers in England for the purposes of securing childcare in schools, ie veterinary surgeons working in abattoirs and meat processing plants, at border control posts, and attending to livestock production.

As such, the previously agreed dispensation for veterinary surgeons involved in the provision of emergency care is no longer in place, which we understand is a direct reflection of the severity of the infection rate in evidence across England in particular, and the acute pressure on schools.

As things stand, under the RCVS Code of Professional Conduct, veterinary surgeons have an ongoing professional responsibility to take steps to provide 24-hour emergency first aid and pain relief to animals according to their skills and the specific situation.

Whilst emergency care provision (either directly or by arrangement with third parties) remains an obligation, we would remind vets that all other veterinary work should be triaged based on animal health and welfare needs, the availability of the necessary team resources, and, most importantly, any impact it may have on public health, ie the health of your colleagues and your clients.

In light of the worsening pandemic circumstances, businesses should not be continuing as usual, and veterinary professionals should be making responsible decisions on what veterinary work can continue.

In addition, we anticipate that practices will need to critically assess their workloads and way of working to support colleagues with caring responsibilities.

Critical/key worker status should be agreed at local level with the school/local authority as appropriate, and you should be confident that any claims for this status are defensible.

For further information on the critical/key worker status for vets in England, please refer to our recent statement, jointly published with the British Veterinary Association and British Veterinary Nursing Association on 13 January.

Please view further information on the UK government’s website on critical workers in England.

 

Scotland

The Scottish CVO’s office has confirmed that those roles considered to be classified as keyworkers may vary across the diverse range of localities across Scotland but has confirmed that certain sectors of the veterinary profession will fall within Category 2 of keyworkers, ie:

'All other Health and Care workers, and wider public sector workers providing emergency/critical welfare services (e.g. Fire, Police, Prisons, Social Workers, etc), as well as those supporting our Critical National Infrastructure, without whom serious damage to the welfare of the people of Scotland could be caused.'

It has also emphasised that Local Authorities remain the first and main port of call to resolve any issues or challenges over key worker status.

The Keyworker Hub (keyworkers@gov.scot) will work to support and co-ordinate complex queries as a last resort and only following the exhaustion of all avenues with the LA.

Please view further information on the Scottish government’s website on keyworkers in respect of schools and childcare.

 

Wales

In deciding who are critical workers, local authorities in Wales will consider the types of employment and associated impacts in their area. Veterinary professionals may be classified as critical workers in the following areas:

Food and other necessary goods workers:

  • those involved in food production, processing, distribution, sale and delivery including food animal vets.
  • those critical to the provision of other essential goods, such as medical supply chain and distribution workers, including community pharmacy and testing, and veterinary medicine in food producing and public health roles.

Key public services workers:

  • veterinary technicians and support staff [which we understand to include veterinary nurses].
  • vets – to include farm animal, companion animal and equine.

Please view further information on the Welsh government’s website for identifying critical workers

 

Northern Ireland

The Education department of the NI Executive has confirmed that keyworkers for the purposes of schools are those who are maintaining essential public services during the Covid-19 response. The definition of keyworker will be flexible and dependent on the circumstance and requirements over the course of this critical period.

Veterinary professionals may be classified as keyworkers in the following areas:

  • Food and other necessary goods: this includes those involved in food production, processing, distribution and sale, as well as those essential to the provision of other key goods, eg hygiene, medical etc.
  • Other workers essential to delivering key public services.
  • Key national and local government including those administrative occupations essential to the effective delivery of the Covid-19 response.

Please view further information on the Northern Ireland Executive's website on keyworkers in respect of schools and childcare.

 

 

Contact the Advice Team: advice@rcvs.org.uk or 020 7202 0789

Last updated: 30 March 2021

 

02.

Under the new governance arrangements the new smaller Council meets more frequently (likely six, but up to eight, times per year).

In 2021, Council meetings are scheduled in January, March, June, July (RCVS Day), September and November. Committee meetings are four times per year in February, May, September, and November.

Subcommittees and working parties meet on a more ad hoc basis, and it is sometimes possible to join by conference call/video conference.

03.

VN Council meetings are generally held in February, May, September and November. RCVS Day is generally the first or second Friday of July.

Subcommittees and working parties meet on a more ad hoc basis.

04.

In line with the four UK governments’ plans for easing restrictions, practices across the UK are able to open without restrictions and provide services to clients in accordance with their professional judgement. However, practices are to be mindful of the ongoing requirement to maintain biosecurity and social distancing.  

Please see FAQ 2 for more detail.

Contact the Advice Team: advice@rcvs.org.uk / 020 7202 0789

Last updated: 12 April 2021

05.

We certainly try to be, both for staff and Council members. Council and Committee meetings are planned at least a year in advance, although additional meetings may be added at shorter notice and, generally, there are fewer meetings during the holiday periods, because we follow an academic calendar.  We also have baby-changing facilities on the premises.

06.

We certainly try to be, both for staff and Council members. Council and Committee meetings are planned at least a year in advance, although additional meetings may be added at shorter notice. Generally, there are fewer meetings during the holiday periods because we follow an academic calendar. We also have baby-changing facilities on the premises.

07.

During the first peak of the Covid-19 pandemic in spring 2020, there was concern that the objectively structured clinical examinations (OSCEs) could not be delivered in a Covid-safe way. In order to ensure student veterinary nurses were able to be assessed effectively and safely, the RCVS Veterinary Nurses (VN) Council approved an alternative assessment method for awarding organisations and universities to utilise.

The alternative to OSCEs, called the Patient-based Assessment, involves building up a small portfolio of case reports and supporting evidence to prove how those who use this assessment method meet Day One Competencies and Skills. Once this has been signed-off and submitted, students using this assessment method will undertake a detailed and structured discussion about their involvement with the cases they have described. The outcome of the discussion will determine whether students can be awarded their licence to practise qualification and subsequently apply to join the RCVS Register of Veterinary Nurses.

This alternative assessment method was initially available whilst Ofqual had implemented the Extra-ordinary Regulatory Framework (ERF) for assessments which were due to place between March and July 2020. However, as the UK has continued to see further peaks in infection rates, Ofqual has extended the ERF to cover academic year 2020/21, allowing alternative assessments to be utilised if required. Whilst it is anticipated that universities and awarding organisation will utilise a Covid-safe OSCE methodology, this may not be feasible in all situations and educational providers are reminded that the Patient-based Assessment is available for use.

The handbook including detailed information about the criteria and process for the Patient-based Assessment has been published on our website and we would recommend all student veterinary nurses read it to gain a clear understanding of how the assessment method will work.

The RCVS veterinary Nursing Department can be contacted on VNPBA@rcvs.org.uk.

Read the news release. 

NB We have also published advice about clinical placements - please read FAQ 9

Last reviewed: 20 April 2021

08.

Council members are not paid directly for the work they do. However, employers can claim a loss of earnings allowance on your behalf (and, if you are self-employed, you can do this). The rate is set at £310 per day, but this is currently under review.

Days spent on specific College business can be claimed for, eg meetings, but not time spent on emails, preparation for a meeting, or reading time.

09.

VN Council members are not paid directly for the work they do. However, employers can claim a loss of earnings allowance on your behalf (and, if you are self-employed, you can do this). The rate is currently set at £155 per day, but this is currently under review.

Days spent on specific College business can be claimed for – eg meetings – but not time spent on emails or preparation for a meeting.

10.

We recognise that remote approval and quality monitoring activities will reduce the risk of Coronavirus transmission to college staff, training practice staff, students and the public.

Utilisation of desk-based activities and video-conferencing technology should be considered during this unique time.

Where remote centre or training practice approval has taken place, we would expect a follow-up visit in person once the coronavirus outbreak is under control, in line with the prevailing government advice.

Contact the VN team:  vetnursing@rcvs.org.uk / 020 7202 0788

NB This guidance was first published on 27 March and reviewed on 2 June. The situation will be reviewed again in 8 weeks' time.

Last updated: 14 December 2020

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