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Overview of decisions made at RCVS Council in June

30 June 2015

The June 2015 meeting of RCVS Council was held at the Scottish Parliament building in Edinburgh – the first meeting of Council outside of London in its 170-year history.

Scottish Parliament building and Salisbury Crags

During the meeting, Council made a number of decisions, including freezing annual renewal fees for a further year, making changes to the Code of Professional Conduct regarding RCVS Specialists and agreeing a major restructure of the RCVS Fellowship.

Here's our 'at a glance' summary of the main discussions and decisions from the day.

Annual renewal fees

Council agreed to freeze the annual renewal fee for veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses for 2016/17 – the sixth year running that there has been no increase in the fee.

The motion was voted upon and the decision to maintain the fees at their 2011/12 levels was carried by a single vote, although the mood of Council suggesting that renewal fees should probably be raised for 2017/18 was noted.

For UK-practising veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses, the fees therefore remain at £299 and £61 respectively for the fee year commencing 1 April 2016.


Council considered a draft consultation on the future governance of the College which was developed by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

It was agreed that the Governance Panel, comprising Council members and set up to consider reforms, should help Defra fine-tune the consultation proposals.

English language testing

Council agreed to proceed with plans to consult on the introduction of language testing for applicants to the Register of Veterinary Surgeons who qualified elsewhere in the European Union, where there are ‘serious and concrete doubts’ about their English language ability.

As such a provision would require a change to the Veterinary Surgeons Act, which does not empower the College to bar registration on the basis of language competence, a Statutory Instrument (SI) would be necessary to make the change.

Before approval any proposed SI would, in turn, need to be put out to formal consultation by Defra, which was expected to be carried out in due course.

RCVS Specialists

Council agreed to make changes to the Code of Professional Conduct for Veterinary Surgeons to clarify that only those who are listed as RCVS Specialists should promote themselves as a ‘specialist’ or similar such expression and that only those who are listed as Advanced Practitioners should describe themselves as such. Furthermore, changes to the Code also clarified that veterinary surgeons should not describe themselves or others as veterinary nurses unless appropriately registered with us. 

We've reported further details about this decision in 'Deadline extended for new RCVS Specialist status applications'

RCVS Fellowship

In order to open up the RCVS Fellowship to more members of the profession, particularly those in practice, Council agreed significant changes to the routes to entry.

The current route to Fellowship by thesis will be closed as it was judged to be unsustainable on quality-assurance grounds and, instead, it was decided to encourage individuals who wish to achieve a high-level qualification to look at existing doctoral programmes. It was also decided to discontinue the current Honorary Fellowship route.

The changes will come into effect from 1 August 2015 and, from that date, the routes to entry will be changed to Meritorious Contribution to the Veterinary Profession; Meritorious Contribution to Knowledge; and Meritorious Contribution to Clinical Practice.

All those who have joined the Fellowship by thesis or by Honorary Fellowship will retain their FRCVS/HonFRCVS status.

An interim Fellowship Board and credentials panel was also set up to take forward the proposals.

RCVS Knowledge

Council approved two years’ funding (£328,000) to develop an open-access Knowledge Summaries website where veterinary professionals can share advice and expertise on integrating evidence-based veterinary medicine into every day practice.

Standards Committee report

David Catlow, Standards Committee Chair, gave Council an overview of decisions made at its April meeting, including changes to the supporting guidance of the Code of Professional Conduct.

Changes to chapter 14 (‘Client confidentiality’) clarified circumstances under which it may be appropriate for client information to be shared with a third party, while changes to chapter 17 (‘Veterinary teams and leaders’) reinforced the accountability of veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses in leadership roles.

Education Committee report

Chris Tufnell, Education Committee Chair, updated Council on decisions made at its May 2015 meeting, including the discontinuing of the 10-hour annual CPD allowance for undocumented study. The Committee was keen to stress that the changes, which will come into effect at the beginning of next year, do not mean that private, ad hoc study will no longer be counted as CPD, but that it should be properly documented and accounted for – as is the case with other types of CPD.

Other committee reports

Reports were also given to Council from the Chairs of Audit and Risk, Disciplinary, Preliminary Investigation and VN Preliminary Investigation Committees as well as VN Council.

Find out more

A video of Nick Stace, our CEO, giving an overview of the decisions made at Council is available to watch.

The full papers for the Council meeting are also available to read and more detailed information about decisions can be found in the June 2015 issue of RCVS News.

Photos from the day are available on our flickr photostream.

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