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An overview of decisions made at the June 2022 meeting of RCVS Council

16 June 2022

At its meeting on Thursday 9 June 2022, RCVS Council, the College’s governing body, voted on a number of decisions, including new Practice Standards Scheme requirements and whether to continue arrangements to allow overseas-trained vets to temporarily register with the RCVS for the purposes of carrying out defined work as Official Veterinarians (OVs) in abattoir settings. Here is an overview of the decisions made by RCVS Council at the meeting.

Temporary registration arrangements 

In March 2021, RCVS Council approved, by majority vote, changes to the RCVS Temporary Register that would allow temporary registrants to carry out specifically defined OV work. This work includes overseeing official meat controls, which they could carry out for a period of up to 12 months, provided they had the necessary skilled worker visa, held a degree accredited or approved by the European Association of Establishments for Veterinary Education (EAEVE), passed the relevant OV training courses and met an English language requirement of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score of 5 rather than the usual level 7 required of RCVS registrants.

The proposals had been brought forward in light of pressures over OV capacity following the UK’s exit from the European Union, with there being particular shortages of OVs working in meat hygiene controls in abattoir settings.

The latest set of proposals were brought to the June 2022 meeting of RCVS Council by the Food Standards Agency’s (FSA) Director of Veterinary Services Jane Clark, who requested an extension of the arrangements for a further 12 months, including an additional decision made by the RCVS Standards Committee in December 2021 to allow supervising official veterinarians (SOVs) to remotely sign Support Health Attestations based on information supplied by temporary registrant OVs.

In the presentation made to RCVS Council members setting out the rationale behind the extension request, Jane Clark said that 104 overseas vets had been recruited and deployed as OVs via the temporary registration route so far with more expected and that withdrawing the arrangements at this point would create issues with capacity. However, she also stated that the FSA was taking steps to move temporary registrant OVs into full MRCVS status by ensuring they met the IELTS 7 English language requirements needed to join the Register and that over time the FSA would seek to become less dependent on temporary registrants for its meat controls OV work.

RCVS Council members unanimously agreed to extend the arrangements for a further year, with a review to be conducted by Standards Committee in six months’ time to assess how the arrangements were working. The decision on whether to continue the arrangements would come back to Council in 12 months’ time.

Council culture project 

At the meeting RCVS Council was also given an update on the ‘Council culture’ project, which was launched in 2021 and sought to reflect on what constitutes a healthy working culture and how this could be achieved and maintained.

The project has been led by the Council members themselves in conjunction with RCVS staff. The members were asked to make decisions relevant to the ‘phase one’ aspects of the project that had been progressed to date. These included: a new ‘how we work’ statement for Council members setting out their roles, responsibilities and behaviours; a new role specification for committee chairs; a standardised and simplified template for committee updates; and an outline plan for a new series of Regional and Virtual Question Time sessions to improve dialogue between the profession and Council members.

A proposed update to the policy for dealing with complaints about Council and committee members will be amended and brought back to a later meeting, when the scope of phase two of the project will also be considered.

Practice Standards Scheme 

RCVS Council unanimously approved changes to the RCVS Practice Standards Scheme (PSS) to introduce new requirements for environmental sustainability and opportunities to demonstrate excellence in this area.

There will be a new Environmental Sustainability Module and Award. The Module contains Core Standards and General Practice level requirements, which would need to be met by all PSS practices at the relevant accreditation levels There are two new changes at Core level which include requirements around responsible and accountable use of ectoparasiticides and endoparasiticides, as well as requiring all practices to have a written environmental sustainability policy.

At General Practice level there are eight new requirements (and two amendments to existing requirements) such as having a dedicated sustainability champion and/or team, advising clients to return unused medicines for safe and sustainable disposal, and employing techniques to reduce the usage of anaesthetic gas.

Furthermore, a new Environmental Sustainability Award has been introduced which will provide accredited practices with an opportunity to demonstrate that they are excelling with their environmental sustainability credentials and have embedded sustainable behaviours.

A list of resources will be published in due course to ensure that veterinary practices can meet the new PSS requirements.

The new Award will be available for assessment in six months, while the new standards themselves will have a lead-in time of 12 months. The changes to Core Standards will also impact practices that are not in the Scheme as, under the Code of Professional Conduct, all veterinary practices must maintain equivalent standards.

Separately, Council also approved some changes to the PSS standards around enhancing its social sustainability focus, including moving the requirement to have a protocol in place to address the management of conflict and bullying in the workplace to Core level . There will be a three-month lead-in time before the implementation of this standard.

Further information about the changes to the standards and awards requirements will be published next month.

Delegation Scheme 

The final item for decision by RCVS Council was a series of updates to the scheme of delegation from RCVS Council to committees, which sets out the decision-making scope and powers of individual committees in relation to Council.

One key update, in line with the RCVS Strategic Plan, was to rationalise and streamline the College’s appeals processes by setting up a new Accreditation Appeals Committee to bring together all the various accreditation appeals mechanisms in one place and ensure we have appeal routes for all College decisions.

This was approved, in addition to some minor amendments, for example, around the appointment of committee vice-chairs and the scope of what business can be conducted by committees via email.

Other matters

In addition to the items for decision there were also updates at Council from RCVS CEO Lizzie Lockett, as well as from the chairs of the Advancement of the Professions, Audit and Risk, Education, Finance and Resources, Preliminary Investigation and Disciplinary Liaison, Registration, and Standards committees, as well as from Matthew Rendle, Chair of VN Council.

It was also announced at RCVS Council that an additional open meeting had been booked for Wednesday 6 July 2022, which would take place online between 4pm and 6pm and would focus specifically on the ongoing review of ‘under care’ and out-of-hours emergency cover..

The full Council papers, including the CEO and committee reports, are available to download.  


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