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17. How can I help in the national effort to fight the pandemic? (10/01/21)

As veterinary surgeons or veterinary nurses, you are in an excellent position to offer your unique skills, training and expertise to help in the national effort to fight the pandemic, should you be able and willing to do so, in a number of areas such as maintaining the food supply, donating veterinary equipment for medical use, and helping to support the vulnerable and shielding during restrictions.

Here are a number of ways in which you could help.

Maintaining the food supply

If you have worked as Red or White Meat Official Veterinarians (OV) within the last five years and have let your designation status lapse, we would urge you to contact the relevant agency for food standards in your part of the UK, as your skills are needed now to support efforts to keep the food chain running during the pandemic.

If you fit the bill, and are able to work, please contact in Scotland, in England/Wales, or in Northern Ireland.


Can you help keep food imports flowing?

Checks at Border Control Posts are important for protecting animal and public health and need to be done without unnecessarily delaying imports of food from outside the EU.

This is not yet a call for those who might be interested, but if you are near a port with a Border Control Post and would be interested in this sort of work, please keep a look out for further requests.


Supporting the livestock industry (Scotland)

If you are based in Scotland and able to offer skilled support to farmers who become ill or need to self-isolate, to ensure their animals continue to be looked after, please email


Coronavirus vaccinations

A change in legislation has now allowed a wider group of individuals to undertake training to deliver the coronavirus vaccines. However, while veterinary surgeons can sign up as vaccinators, they are not on the list of healthcare professionals that are being encouraged by the NHS to apply for roles in the vaccination roll-out programme.

Veterinary professionals may also be able to get involved in supporting the vaccine delivery process by applying as volunteers through the St John Ambulance volunteering scheme.


Donate veterinary equipment

If your practice has not already done so, please fill out this survey with details of any veterinary equipment that you might be able to loan/donate to support frontline medical teams in their efforts to fight the pandemic.

Such equipment may include NHS-compatible ventilators, anaesthetic equipment/gases (NB see cautionary note about propofol) and PPE.

Please ensure your practice only responds once to this survey to avoid double-counting of resources.


NHS Volunteer Army

The NHS is calling for volunteers to help the nation’s 1.5 million vulnerable people who have been asked to shield themselves from coronavirus because of underlying health conditions. This help involves simple but vital tasks such as:

  • delivering medicines from pharmacies,
  • driving patients to appointments,
  • bringing them home from hospital, or
  • making regular phone calls to check on people isolating at home.

NHS Volunteer Army


Work directly with NHS Trusts

We understand that many vets and vet nurses are keen to offer help in areas such as healthcare, diagnostic testing and biosecurity. We also understand that some NHS Trusts may already be advertising for assistance or approaching veterinary professionals directly.

Whilst this may be possible, there are certain legal restrictions on the assistance you can lawfully provide and how you should represent yourself to patients.

It is our understanding that under current proposals, it is not intended that vets or vet nurses would register on an emergency basis with any other regulator, eg GMC, NMC.

However, local NHS Trusts could employ people to undertake roles that are not reserved by law to licensed doctors or other regulated professionals, providing they are satisfied that the individual has the skills and competences to do that role. Anyone employed in these roles locally should not misrepresent their position to patients and must be careful not to hold themselves out as a licensed doctor. They should also be very clear about their role regarding any patient and consider with those employing them all issues relating to consent.

To support you in any decision you might make to work with your local NHS Trust, we recommend that you:

  • obtain a clear job description that clearly defines the tasks that you will be required to undertake, and do not deviate from these;
  • satisfy yourself that you have the skills and competencies to undertake the tasks outlined in this job description;
  • satisfy yourself that none of these tasks is reserved by law to licensed doctors or other regulated professionals;
  • ensure you are given local training appropriate to the tasks outlined in this job description; and,
  • check that you are appropriately indemnified by the NHS Trust for the work that you are being asked to do (NB NHS Resolution has confirmed that those brought in to help in NHS Trusts in England will be provided with free indemnity cover for civil liabilities; however, those working in NHS Trusts in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland should first check with the individual Trust).

We would also ask you please to remember that even though you might be working in a different capacity, you remain registered with the RCVS. As such, we are obligated to remind you that any concerns raised about you regarding these activities (however unlikely this would be) could fall under our broad regulatory remit.

We have also received NHS Trust advice that anyone considering working for an NHS Trust in roles where there may be patient contact should ideally be under 45 years old, and have no risk factors at all in the way of respiratory compromise or immunosuppression.

We recognise that the government’s current priority is in re-recruiting retired and non-practising medical health professionals, and granting provisional registration to final-year medical students, and that the GMC is making significant advances in these areas.

To this end, we would encourage you to first consider what assistance you might be able to provide to the livestock production, meat hygiene and food import/export industries, as set out above, before volunteering to assist directly with local NHS Trusts.


Clinical Contact Caseworkers

Following the NHS launch of a test and trace service to help speed up testing for anyone with coronavirus symptoms and track that person’s recent contacts, we understand that NHS Professionals has been recruiting Clinical Contact Caseworkers to help run this service.

We have spoken to the relevant authorities in England, Scotland and Wales about what insurance implications there may be for veterinary professionals undertaking this role. These are as follows:


Veterinary professionals who are engaged by NHS Professionals to undertake test and trace duties for the Department of Health and Social Care/Public Health England are covered for clinical negligence risks under the Clinical Negligence Scheme for Coronavirus, which is administered by NHS Resolution on behalf of the Secretary of State.


Veterinary professionals employed by, or volunteering for, an NHS Scotland Board are covered for clinical negligence risks by the Clinical Negligence and Other Risks Indemnity Scheme (CNORIS), managed by NHS National Services Scotland. Employment in a contact tracer role by NHS Scotland would be via an NHS Scotland Board and therefore covered by CNORIS.


A Contact Tracing System in Wales was announced by the Welsh Government on 1 June 2020. We are therefore seeking further clarification from NHS Wales on the provision of indemnity for veterinary professionals employed in a contact tracer role. In the meantime, it is important that you check the insurance situation yourself if you are seeking to undertake this role in Wales.

Northern Ireland

We have also made enquiries with the relevant authorities in Northern Ireland, and will update this FAQ when that information becomes available. In the meantime, it is important that you check the insurance situation yourself if you are seeking to undertake this role in Northern Ireland.


Call to final year students

Have you finished your course and are wondering how you can use your veterinary training to help with the Covid-19 response?

The government, supported by the Royal College, are working hard to keep the livestock food chain moving, both to ensure a safe food supply and to protect animal health and welfare. Veterinary graduates have unique skills and training that make them well placed to help with this work.

Veterinary graduates have already completed most of the Official Auxiliary (Meat Hygiene Inspector) theory training as part of their course. Many vets start their careers in Veterinary Public Heath as Official Auxiliaries (Meat Hygiene Inspectors) and move on to complete the OV training while in that role.

If you are interested in finding out more about how your unique professional training can support the whole community during the Covid-19 response, then there are various opportunities available in England, Scotland and Wales in this important area of work. This would include a training, mentoring and further development programme which may allow migration into a full Official Veterinarian role post-graduation.

If you think you can help, please contact in England/Wales or in Scotland.


Contact the Advice Team: or 020 7202 0789

Last updated: 11 January 2021


Related FAQs

  • Veterinary practices are not on the list of businesses and premises that need to close and, as such, may open where necessary.

    However, in order to comply with government guidance, where clients are seen, you should ensure you follow the relevant guidance on staying alert and safe (social distancing) including the mandatory wearing of face coverings. 

    In terms of those working within the practice, clinically extremely vulnerable employees should be encouraged to stay at home.

    Other team members should only attend the practice when necessary. Where an employer, in consultation with their employee, judges an employee can carry out their normal duties from home they should do so. Anyone else who cannot work from home should go to their place of work. 

    You should also familiarise yourself with, and follow, the government’s guidance for employers and businesses in England (see guidance for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) to ensure you are following best practice to curb the spread of the virus and protect your team.

    Contact the Advice Team: or 020 7202 0789

    Last updated: 24 September 2020

  • Although veterinary practices may remain open, it is vital to continue to comply with current government guidelines on working safely, which vary by nation and region within the UK, and to be mindful of the relevant guidance for members of the public.

    Please click on the drop-down below that is relevant to your nation: 

    England (national lockdown)

    On 5 January 2021, England entered into national lockdown restrictions and the UK government has instructed people to stay at home to control the virus, protect the NHS, and save lives.

    Veterinary practices may remain open to provide services essential for public health and animal health and welfare under lockdown restrictions, and are not, as previously, restricted to emergency-only work.

    The UK government has said that owners may leave home to seek veterinary advice or treatment for animal health and welfare reasons.

    Veterinary professionals should exercise their clinical judgement as to what constitutes essential animal health and welfare, and therefore it may be appropriate in certain circumstances to delay seeing an animal until lockdown restrictions are lifted.

    In line with the 'stay at home' message, veterinary practice support staff should work from home if possible, and veterinary professionals should undertake triage calls or remote consultations from home where possible.

    Veterinary professionals are reminded to take appropriate biosecurity and hygiene measures when they do need to see an animal in person.

    Please refer to the flowchart for England (national lockdown) - also available to download as a PDF.

    Further information is available on the government website.

    Can I do it? Guidance for clinical practices in England (national lockdown)


    From 00.01hrs on 20 December 2020, Wales entered a national lockdown with Alert Level 4 restrictions to replace the previous national restrictions.

    The Welsh CVO’s office has confirmed:

    "Veterinary services may continue to operate but non-essential sales of petcare products must cease, in line with suspension of non-essential retail. Services that are not necessary for the health and welfare of animals or for the production of food should be deferred.

    "We expect vets to use their professional judgement and understanding of infection control to make sensible decisions to limit the risks of spreading Covid-19 whilst undertaking their work. We do need people to stay at home as much as possible in this Alert Level 4."

    Please refer to the updated flowchart for Wales below, which can also be downloaded as a pdf.

    Further information is available on the Welsh government website.

    Covid-19 practice flowchart for Wales- 20 December 2020

    Scotland (Levels 0-3)

    From 2 November 2020, the Scottish government introduced a system of five Covid protection levels that can be applied nationally or locally depending on the prevalence of the virus across Scotland, and which will be reviewed regularly.

    If your practice is in a region of Scotland under Levels 0-3 restrictions, please refer to the flowchart below.

    The flowchart below is also available to download as a PDF.

    Covid-19 practice flowchart - Can I do it? Scotland Levels 0-3

    Scotland (temporary lockdown)

    From 5 January 2021, mainland Scotland moved from Level 4 restrictions to a temporary lockdown, with new guidance to stay at home except for essential purposes.

    The Scottish CVO’s Office has confirmed that:

    "Businesses which provide essential services can continue to operate, such as those in the Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) sector. There are 13 designated CNI sectors including agriculture and food production and activity to maintain the food supply chain.

    "Not all CNI activity will be essential. Those operations which can be done effectively through home working should be adopted.

    "Veterinary services can remain open. They should plan for the minimum number of people needed on site to operate safely and effectively.”

    Businesses that can continue to operate under lockdown restrictions must:

    • Plan for the minimum number of people needed on site to operate safely and effectively and maintain their service/operations.
    • Ensure all regulations and guidance is adhered to by staff and customers/visitors to site.
    • Encourage staff to work from home wherever possible, particularly with regards to staff who are assessed as at possible risk.

    If your practice is in a region of Scotland under lockdown restrictions, please refer to the flowchart below. The flowchart below is also available to download as a PDF.

    Further information is available on the Scottish government website.

    Can I do it? Guidance for clinical practices in Scotland (national lockdown)


    Northern Ireland (lockdown)

    From 00.01hrs on 26 December 2020, the Northern Ireland Executive introduced a six-week lockdown to replace the previous national restrictions. An order for people in Northern Ireland to stay at home – to help stop the spread of Covid-19 – will become legally enforceable from 00.01 on Friday 8 January 2021.

    The NI Executive has confirmed that veterinary practices can remain open.

    When deciding whether or not to carry out a particular type of work, you should refer to the flowchart below and use it to guide you through the decision-making process. The flowchart below is also available to download as a PDF.

    Further information is available on the Northern Ireland government website

    Can I do it? Guidance for clinical practices in Northern Ireland (national lockdown)


    Please note:

    We have considered and produced the flowchart and associated guidance for the veterinary profession in line with the latest government advice, including:

    This flowchart was originally published on 9 April 2020, and was then updated on 19 May, 6 August and 29 September 2020. Further versions (for different scenarios) were then published on 23 and 26 October, 3, 19 and 26 November and 10 December 2020.

    Print-ready versions of these flowcharts are also available to download as a PDF document.

    Contact the Advice Team: or 020 7202 0789

    Last updated: 6 January 2021


  • You will need to decide whether the animal needs to be seen now, whether the case can be supported remotely or whether treatment can be delayed. If, after triaging the animal, you feel it is necessary to see them, consider whether it could be brought to you (or you go to it) without putting your own, or someone else’s, health at unnecessary risk.

    For example, ask whether another person can bring the animal to the practice, or another appropriate location, on the owner’s behalf.

    Government guidance states that there is no evidence of coronavirus circulating in pets or other animals in the UK and there is nothing to suggest animals may transmit the disease to humans. However, if you do decide to see the animal in person, normal biosecurity measures, as well as additional government guidance on hand washing, should be observed.

    Consider the extent to which you can assist remotely - this may include giving advice via remote means as to how to manage the animal’s condition at home. It may also include remote prescribing of POM-V medicines as appropriate (see FAQ 4 for full details). In this scenario, document your rationale for your decision making to ensure you can justify your actions if asked to do so.

    In cases where POM-V medicines are prescribed remotely, you should ensure that either you are in a position to examine the animal yourself or that it can be examined by another veterinary surgeon if its condition deteriorates to the point where remote support is inadequate. There may be instances where, in order to ensure your own safety, an animal needs to be taken away from its owners to undergo treatment, or euthanasia, for welfare reasons. This is likely to be particularly upsetting as most owners will want to be with their animal when they are put to sleep. As such, you may wish to consider whether you can direct them to an appropriate source of support, for example a bereavement or counselling service.

    Contact the Advice Team: or 020 7202 0789

    Last updated: 13 May 2020

  • Under normal circumstances, this is not permitted by the RCVS Code of Professional Conduct. However, during the pandemic, RCVS Council has agreed a temporary departure from this position.

    Please click on the drop-down below that is relevant to your nation to determine when remote prescribing may be appropriate: 

    England (national lockdown)

    Under national lockdown restrictions, you may prescribe POM-V medicines via remote means. In line with the flowchart referred to in FAQ 2 for England (national lockdown), in non-emergency cases you should consider whether you can support the case effectively via remote means in the first instance. However, you must first be satisfied that you can adhere to the guidelines below.


    Under Alert Level 4 restrictions, you may prescribe POM-V medicines via remote means. In line with the flowchart referred to in FAQ 2 for Wales, in non-emergency cases veterinary surgeons should consider whether they can support the case effectively via remote means in the first instance. However, you must first be satisfied that you can adhere to the guidelines below.

    Scotland (Levels 0-3)

    In line with the flow chart referred to in FAQ 2 for Scotland (Levels 0-3), you should consider whether you already have the animal under your care (as explained in Chapter 4, paras 4.9-4.11) or, if not, whether it is possible to carry out a physical examination to bring the animal under your care.

    If the answer to both questions is ‘no’, you may prescribe POM-V medicines via remote means, providing you adhere to the guidelines below.

    Scotland (temporary lockdown)

    Under temporary lockdown restrictions, you may prescribe POM-V medicines via remote means. In line with the flowchart referred to in FAQ 2 for Scotland (temporary lockdown), in non-emergency cases veterinary surgeons should consider whether they can support the case effectively via remote means in the first instance. However, you must first be satisfied that you can adhere to the guidelines below.

    Northern Ireland (lockdown)

    Under lockdown restrictions, you may prescribe POM-V medicines via remote means. In line with the flowchart referred to in FAQ 2 for Northern Ireland (lockdown), in non-emergency cases veterinary surgeons should consider whether they can support the case effectively via remote means in the first instance. However, you must first be satisfied that you can adhere to the guidelines below.


    Remote prescribing guidelines

    Before prescribing by remote means, you must first be satisfied that:

    • You can provide a 24/7 follow-up service involving physical examination, plus or minus further investigation, if required; for example in the case where the animal does not improve, or suffers an adverse reaction, or deteriorates, subsequent to the prescription of said medicines. You or your practice can provide this follow-up service personally, or by written agreement with a veterinary services provider that is local to your client (as per existing guidance under the Code – see SG Chapter 3, paras 3.3 - 3.6),
    • you have enough information to remotely prescribe POM-Vs safely without physically examining the animal,
    • there is no suitable alternative medicine, categorised as a POM-VPS, NFA-VPS, or AVM-GSL, and
    • the benefit to the animal and/or public health outweighs the risk.

    If you are satisfied regarding the above, you should then consider:

    • whether immediate action is necessary in the interests of animal welfare,
    • whether treatment can be delayed until a physical examination is possible,
    • whether it is possible to examine the animal without having contact with the owner and if so, whether it would assist,
    • the nature of the medication.
    • the appropriate quantity, taking into account factors such as the length of time until a physical examination of the animal will be possible and the length of time until the owner will be able to access medication by other means.
    • the risks and benefits to the animal, and
    • the client’s view and understanding of the risks.

    You should also ensure that:

    • any consent given by the client is fully informed
    • you make detailed notes of your decision and the reasons for it, and
    • you can justify any decision that you make.

    When prescribing remotely, you should follow the BSAVA Guide to the Use of Veterinary Medicines, which contains useful information in relation to emailing prescriptions and posting veterinary medicines. See also the Royal Mail’s guidance on posting prescription medication. You should also provide the owner with all of the information they need to administer the medicine safely and ensure they have a means to contact you (or a colleague) in the event they have any questions or problems.

    NB If you are approached by members of the public who are not existing clients of your practice, where possible you should in the first instance direct them to the practice where they are registered. Our current supporting guidance on  ‘Communication between professional colleagues’ may be useful.

    Contact the Advice Team: or 020 7202 0789

    Last updated: 6 January 2021


    • Where it is necessary to see an animal in person:
      • Ask clients if they or a member of their household are currently self-isolating or have tested positive for the virus when booking appointments and before attending any home/farm visits or offsite consultations.
      • Reduce the number of people attending the premises to the absolute minimum (see FAQ 2) and limit physical contact with clients wherever possible (see FAQs 1 & 2). This could be achieved by asking that only one person accompanies an animal when attending the practice, or by asking clients to wait in the waiting room, outside or even in their cars while you examine their animal. The consultation with the owner could then take place over the telephone.
      • Ensure employees and clients wear face masks when on premises, including the consultation room, waiting area and any communal areas.
      • You may keep a record of clients attending your practice so that you can inform them if there is a positive case of coronavirus amongst your staff or other persons entering your premises. 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. The QR code service is only available in England and Wales. It allows visitors to scan the QR code when they arrive, using the NHS COVID-19 app. More information regarding the QR code in England and Wales is available on the government website.
    • Carry out risk assessments for all staff and observe government guidance on staying alert and safe (social distancing) in England (see guidance for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland). 
    • Encourage team members who are considered clinically extremely vulnerable, eg are aged over 70, have underlying health issues or are pregnant with significant heart disease, congenital or acquired, to stay at home.
    • Familiarise yourself with, and follow, the government’s guidance for employers and businesses to ensure you are following best practice to curb the spread of the virus and protect your team.
    • Familiarise yourself with guidance on infection prevention and control from the UK Government and devolved administrations (where available, as follows) and consider whether any of the suggested measures could be applicable and implemented at your practice:


    Contact the Advice Team: or 020 7202 0789

    Last updated: 29 October 2020

  • If you and your practice are unable to meet the government's social distancing guidelines, which include giving thought to limiting unnecessary travel, then the procedure should not go ahead unless there is an animal health risk, and only then when care has been given to additional risk assessment and PPE. 

    While the College does not regulate businesses, we do require that every practice has a senior named veterinary surgeon who takes responsibility for clinical policy and it would be to that person that we would look if we hear that business as usual is being pursued in a reckless fashion, rather than careful judgement being exercised. 

    It may assist to draw your employer’s attention to the most recent guidance for employers and businesses and social distancing.

    If you are concerned about how the virus may affect your employment, for example you are in the government’s list of clinically extremely vulnerable people and you wish to stay at home, you should refer to the government guidance for employees.

    If you are a member of a veterinary association or union that has a legal helpline, you may also wish to contact them for assistance with matters relating to your employment.

    In addition, there is also specific coronavirus advice from ACAS for both employers and employees.

    Contact the Advice Team: or 020 7202 0789

    Last updated: 9 July 2020

  • Update - 8 June 2020

    The RCVS Taskforce have reviewed the decision taken in March to reduce the CPD hourly requirements for vets and VNs by 25% and agreed there will be no further reduction in CPD requirements this year.

    To inform their review, the taskforce looked at the data in the RCVS CPD recording platform, 1CPD which almost 60% of vets and 80% of VNs are using. This shows that around two-thirds of vets and VNs using the portal have so far completed more than 90% of the required hours for the year. A small minority of vets and VNs using the 1CPD portal have completed less than 20% of hours required.

    We recognise that many veterinary professionals may be struggling with competing priorities during this time. If you think you may not achieve your required CPD this year, we would encourage you to contact the Education team as soon as possible by emailing so we can discuss this with you. 

    Original statement - 30 March 2020

    In recognition of the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions brought in by the UK Government in order to control its transmission, we have reduced by 25% the number of hours of CPD that you will have to complete during 2020.

    Therefore, this year, the annual minimum requirement for veterinary surgeons will be reduced from 35 to 26 hours of CPD, while that of veterinary nurses will be reduced from 15 to 11 hours.

    The reduction comes into force immediately to help relieve the pressure on you in facing significant and competing challenges in the coming weeks and months.

    We recognise that, although some veterinary professionals have seen a reduced workload and may well take this opportunity to do CPD, many will now be juggling their professional responsibilities with increased family, childcare and other caring responsibilities and may, therefore, be finding it difficult to plan for and undertake CPD.

    A similar 25% reduction pro rata (for 2020) will also be introduced for veterinary surgeons holding Advanced Practitioner or RCVS Specialist status, as retaining these statuses requires additional hours of CPD across a 5-year period, including in the specific areas of designation.

    We would urge you to remember, however, that our CPD policy for vets and vet nurses already allows for many different types of learning and development, not just attending physical events.

    While going to conferences and other events may not be possible for many for the time being, there is a wide variety of CPD that you can still access, including webinars, online learning, and reading relevant journals.

    We understand that, in some cases, the organisers of cancelled events are working to make the learning resources available online instead.

    There is a range of resources that you may find helpful on our website, including blog posts and videos about types of CPD to consider. Please visit

    Read our full statement

    Last updated: 8 June 2020

  • RCVS Council has agreed to a number of temporary measures around the Extra-Mural Studies (EMS) requirements for current UK veterinary students, in response to the coronavirus outbreak and the associated restrictions during the period of lockdown. These measures are summarised on our EMS page.

    The temporary changes to EMS policy will be kept under constant review and may be subject to further change, as restrictions due to the pandemic are eased and / or reintroduced if there is a second wave of infection.

    Contact the Education Team: / 020 7202 0791

    Last updated: 14 July 2020

  • Several universities and awarding organisations expressed concerns regarding student veterinary nurses’ attendance in clinical placement and employment, due to the precautions around transmission of Coronavirus. This applies to all students in all years of a programme, although there were particular concerns as to the impact this will have on final-year students being unable to complete the required number of hours in order to complete their licence to practise qualification and be eligible to apply to register with the RCVS.

    There have also been concerns raised over the completion of the RCVS Day One Skills for Veterinary Nurses (DOS) should students be unable to attend their clinical placements or employment. The RCVS Day One Competences and Day One Skills for Veterinary Nurses set out the minimum essential requirements that we expect all student nurses to have met when they register, to ensure they are safe and competent to practise on day one, in whichever area of the profession they start to work.

    Universities and awarding organisations requested a degree of flexibility around the RCVS VN Registration Rules and completion of the RCVS Day One Skills, in light of the Covid-19 situation.

    The following therefore applies:

    • Veterinary Nurses Council recognises that it should not be compulsory for students to complete clinical placements or employment during the current pandemic. This will apply to students in any year of their studies.

    • It is also recognised that for students in their final year of study, it may be difficult for them to make up the hours of clinical placement or employment missed prior to completing their programme. Universities, awarding organisations and colleges should continue to support their students and explore alternatives, however any shortfall relative to the requirements should not be a barrier to completion of the programme.

    • It is anticipated that both further and higher education students not in their final year of study would have sufficient time to make up the number of hours prior to completing their programme however, this will be reviewed as the Covid-19 pandemic progresses.

    • Student veterinary nurses will still be required to complete the RCVS Day One Skills for Veterinary Nurses in their totality as these seek to assure competence at the point of registration. Where a student has completed the Day One Skills in fewer than the required 1,800 hours, this will be assessed on a case-by-case basis on application to register.

    • The RCVS Veterinary Nursing Department has issued guidance on completion of the RCVS Day One Skills to all programme providers. This guidance includes the use of professional discussion, set tasks and simulation where appropriate.

    NB We have also published advice about OSCEs and unseen examinations - please read FAQ12

    Contact the VN team: / 020 7202 0788

    *This guidance was first published on 27 March, updated on 2 June, 30 July and 12 October for a further 8 weeks, after which the situation will be reviewed again.

    Last updated: 14 December 2020

  • 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.


    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.



    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 ( 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.



    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: or 020 7202 0789

    Last updated: 13 January 2021


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