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12. Does the RCVS still require SVNs to complete their OSCEs and unseen examinations? (20/04/21)

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

Read the news release. 

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

Last reviewed: 20 April 2021

Related FAQs

  • The UK wide temporary relaxation allowing supply of veterinary medicines away from registered veterinary practice premises (RVPP), inaccessible due to the COVID-19 pandemic, ended on 31 August 2020.

    However, in view of the continuing challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, effective from 1 September 2020, the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) is allowing the supply of medicines from temporary premises where:

    • Veterinary practice premises are located in an area in which local lockdown measures have been implemented (the VMD has confirmed that this also applies to national lockdowns); or
    • A veterinary surgeon needs to self-isolate as they have tested positive for the virus or due to contact tracing.

    To notify the VMD and RCVS of any changes, please email and

    For further information, please see the VMD guidance.

    Contact the Advice Team: or 020 7202 0789

    Last updated: 25 January 2021

  • You should only undertake testing for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in animals where it is in the interest of the health and welfare of the animal and is in line with APHA guidance. It should not be a screening test.

    You should be mindful of the fact that SARS-CoV-2 appears to be a very rare cause of mild clinical disease; other differentials should be considered, investigated and ruled out as more likely causes of clinical signs before performing testing for SARS-CoV-2.

    The small number of animals worldwide which have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 to date have shown only mild respiratory signs and gastrointestinal distress. In the absence of a specific treatment for the virus, testing for SARS-CoV-2 has not, and should not, result in alteration to case management. You are therefore urged to carefully consider before undertaking any such test and the benefit to the specific animal.

    Where it is intended that clinical research projects are to be undertaken, for instance, utilising blood that is derived from clinical sampling, ie for a diagnostic or treatment purpose, or via non-invasive sampling, eg swabs, these should be the subject of appropriate ethical review. Otherwise, sampling to answer research investigations is regulated by The Home Office under The Animal (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986.

    Collecting samples from animals must only be undertaken with due consideration to the current social distancing requirements. Further, as confirmed contact with a suspect human case is one of the criteria for considering testing (see APHA guidance) particular caution should be taken when handling the animal due to the risk of it acting as a fomite.

    If, after careful consideration, you feel that testing for SARS-CoV-2 is necessary, you should assess the types of samples that are needed, ie check with the lab before collection to get it right first time and avoid unnecessary handling or repeat sampling of the animal.

    You have a professional obligation to report positive SARS-Cov-2 test results to the competent authority - Office of the UK Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO) in England and respective CVOs in the devolved administrations - to support the UK's international reporting obligations to the OIE.

    Contact the Advice Team: or 020 7202 0789

    Last reviewed: 25 March 2021

  • The new UK border rules introduced due to coronavirus state that any person returning to the UK from overseas (excluding Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man) must provide their journey and contact details, and self-isolate for 10 days after arrival.

    From 2 August, if you have been in a green or an amber list country (and have not been in or passed through a red list country, or France) in the 10 days before you arrive in the UK, and you have been fully vaccinated under the UK, EU or US vaccination programme (i.e. 14 days after your second vaccination has passed), you are no longer required to self-isolate.

    There are also exemptions in place for certain categories of workers in the UK. For each of the devolved nations, travel corridor exemptions are in place and are subject to review dependant on the level of risk for certain countries/territories.

    The quarantine exemptions are different for each of the regions of the UK. Please see below for details of the system in place in your area. In addition, please refer to your employer’s protocols for the interpretation of legislation for your specific work and personal situation.


    Travel exemptions

    There are exemptions in place for some workers travelling from amber and red list countries, including certain veterinary surgeons, where they have travelled to the UK in the course of their work or otherwise to commence or resume work, as follows:

    • Veterinary surgeons involved in the food supply chain, and
    • Official Veterinarians (OVs) working on official controls at the border

    Those veterinary surgeons involved in the food supply chain are exempt under the following guideline, with the food supply being covered under ‘goods’:

    a worker with specialist technical skills, where those specialist technical skills are required for essential or emergency works or services (including commissioning, maintenance, and repairs and safety checks) to ensure the continued production, supply, movement, manufacture, storage or preservation of goods

    In addition, there are exemptions for qualified persons and responsible persons for human and veterinary medicines, clinical trials, clinical investigations and pharmacovigilance.

    The full list of exemptions is available on the English government website.


    Travel exemptions

    There are exemptions in place for certain veterinary professionals as follows:

    • Those involved in the production, supply, movement, manufacture, storage or preservation of goods;
    • Those involved in veterinary medicines for the purposes of clinical trials; and
    • Those involved in veterinary medicines for the purposes of quality assurance

    Please refer to the full list of exemptions on the Welsh government website.


    Travel exemptions

    Please note that for people travelling to Scotland there are some differences from the exemptions in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, namely, there are no quarantine exemptions for veterinary professionals:

    • Registered health or care professionals travelling to the UK to provide essential healthcare, including where this is not related to coronavirus - will need to self-isolate for 10 days if you are staying in Scotland;
    • Frequent travellers for work: if you live in the UK but work in another country and travel between the UK and country of work at least once a week; and/or you live outside the UK but work in the UK and travel between your country of residence and the UK at least once a week - will need to self-isolate for 10 days if you are staying in Scotland.

    Please refer to the Scottish government website.

    Northern Ireland

    Travel exemptions

    The categories of veterinary professionals exempt from quarantine mirror those exempt for England, namely:

    • Veterinary surgeons involved in the food supply chain; and
    • Qualified persons and responsible persons for human and veterinary medicines, clinical trials, clinical investigations and pharmacovigilance.

    Please refer to the full list of exemptions on the NI government website.

    Contact the Advice Team: or 020 7202 0789

    Last reviewed: 05 August 2021

  • People in England and Northern Ireland are no longer legally required to wear face masks in most public spaces although, in some places, both governments still recommend that they are worn (subject to any individual exemptions).

    Masks are still legally required in many situations in Scotland and certain situations in Wales, again, subject to exemptions.

    We would expect veterinary practices to continue to set their own requirements around the wearing of face coverings by staff and clients (subject to any exemptions), having considered and balanced as far as possible public health risks.

    We recognise that veterinary practices continue to be short-staffed due to ongoing infection rates, and support them in maintaining good levels of biosecurity to minimise the chances of their team members becoming ill.

    For ease of reference, the following summaries set out the UK governments’ latest positions on wearing face coverings:


    The legal requirement to wear a face covering no longer applies. However, the government suggests that you continue to wear a face covering in crowded and enclosed spaces where you may come into contact with people you do not normally meet.

    Customers, visitors or staff may choose to wear face coverings in any setting.

    Please see the UK government guidance.

    Northern Ireland

    Although wearing a face covering is no longer a legal requirement, it is still strongly recommended in health and social care settings, on public transport and in enclosed indoor settings, where you come into contact with people you do not usually meet.

    By wearing a face covering you are showing your support and consideration for others and playing your part to prevent transmission of the virus.

    Please see the NI government guidance.


    By law, everyone aged 12 and over must wear a face covering, unless exempt, in most indoor public spaces, including any indoor setting where work is carried out.

    Please see the Scottish government guidance.


    You must wear a face covering in retail premises, health and social care settings, and on public transport.

    This applies to everyone aged 11 and over, unless an exemption applies, whether they are staff working in these areas/settings or members of the public entering these areas/settings.

    Please see the Welsh government guidance.


    Contact the Advice Team: / 020 7202 0789

    Last reviewed: 28 February 2022


  • In response to the UK Chief Veterinary Officer’s confirmation today [27 July 2020] that on 22 July, a domestic cat was the first animal in the UK to test positive for Covid-19, there is no change to government guidance on the testing of animals for Covid-19. 

    Despite the fact that this is the first confirmed case of coronavirus animal infection in the UK, there is no evidence that the animal was involved in the transmission of the disease to humans nor is there evidence that other domestic animals are able to transmit the virus to humans. The cat and its owners have since made a full recovery.

    Public Health England has issued advice in line with general coronavirus guidance to keep washing hands regularly, including before and after contact with animals.

    Pet owners should be directed to the latest government guidance on how to continue to care for their animals during the coronavirus pandemic.

    Please refer to the BVA website for further advice for pet owners with confirmed or suspected Covid-19.

    For more information on your professional obligations regarding testing animals for Covid-19 and your reporting requirements, please refer to FAQ 22.

    Contact the Advice Team: or 020 7202 0789

    Last reviewed: 25 March 2021

  • Government tracing programmes across the UK are different for each of the four nations. Please see below for details of the system in place in your area.

    Each of the four nations have launched separate contact tracing programmes to avoid blanket national lockdown restrictions and to help facilitate local lockdown situations to target the virus. Each programme will ask those who test positive for Covid-19 to provide contact details for the people that they have been in recent contact with and contact tracers will notify each of those persons to self-isolate for 10 days.

    For veterinary professionals, if you are identified as having been in contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19, but at that time you were wearing the minimum required PPE as recommended by Public Health England (gloves, apron, a fluid repellent surgical face mask and eye protection), you would be considered to have had adequate protection against transmission and should not be advised to self-isolate.

    However, given that in most circumstances where veterinary workers are identified as contacts, whilst you may have been wearing a face covering, this may not have been whilst wearing the minimum required PPE, and so you will be advised to self-isolate. If you are advised to self-isolate, and this would cause an impact on the provision of veterinary services, the incident can be discussed with the local Public Health England Health Protection Team who will decide whether a local risk assessment is warranted. Please refer to your employer’s protocols in the first instance.

    NHS Test and Trace QR system

    Whilst veterinary practices are not required to collect information via the QR code scanning system for the NHS Track and Trace programme, practices may consider implementing this system as part of the public health effort to contain the spread of coronavirus. This service is only available in England and Wales. Please see below for further information regarding the programme relevant for each nation:


    See details of tracing programmes in England


    See details of tracing programmes in Scotland


    See details of tracing programmes in Wales

    Northern Ireland

    See details of tracing programmes in Northern Ireland

    Contact the Advice Team: / 020 7202 0789

    Last reviewed: 25 March 2021


    This FAQ has now been removed.

    24 February 2022


    Contact the Education Team: / 020 7202 0791

    Last updated: 5 May 2021

  • On 22 July, the UK government announced as part of step 4 of its roadmap that people who are double jabbed or aged over 18 would no longer need to self-isolate if they are identified as a close contact of a positive Covid-19 case. The date this comes into effect varies between the nations.

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


    From Monday 16 August, double vaccinated adults will no longer be required to self-isolate, as long as they received their final dose of an MHRA-approved vaccine as part of the UK vaccination programme at least 14 days prior to contact with a positive case.

    Double jabbed individuals and under 18s who are identified as close contacts by NHS Test and Trace will be advised to take a PCR test as soon as possible to check if they have the virus and to check for variants of concern. People can order a PCR home test online or by calling 119, or going to a test site.

    As double jabbed people identified as close contacts are still at risk of being infected, people are advised to consider other precautions such as wearing a face covering in enclosed spaces, and limit contact with other people, especially with anyone who is clinically extremely vulnerable. They will not be required to self-isolate while they wait for the results of the PCR test.

    Further information is available on the government’s website


    From 7 August 2021, those who have been in close contact with a positive case but are fully vaccinated will no longer need to self-isolate. Ten days of self-isolation will still be required for people who test positive or have symptoms.

    Further information on current self-isolation rules can be found here on the Welsh government’s website.


    From 9 August 2021, all fully vaccinated people are exempt and will no longer need to self-isolate.

    Further information regarding the critical workers exemption is available on the Scottish government’s website.

    Northern Ireland

    From Monday 16 August, people who are fully vaccinated will no longer need to self-isolate for 10 days if someone they have been in close contact with tests positive for Covid-19. Instead, they should get a PCR test on day two and day eight of the 10 day period. People who are not fully vaccinated will still need to self-isolate for 10 days.

    Further information on the current self-isolation rules is available on the NI government’s website.

    Please refer to FAQ 5 regarding protecting staff and clients in practices via the use of PPE, Test and Trace and workplace coronavirus testing. Please read the government’s guidance for employers and businesses in England (see guidance for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland).

    Contact the Advice Team: or 020 7202 0789

    Last updated: 16 August 2021

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