Revised methodology and timeline for under-care review process set out

13 March 2020

A new timeline and methodology for our wide-ranging review of its guidance to the veterinary professions on ‘under care’ and 24/7 out-of-hours emergency cover was set out at the March meeting of RCVS Council.

The review process and timeline had originally been approved by RCVS Council in June 2019, on the recommendation of the RCVS Standards Committee following its lengthy and detailed exploration of the implications of new technologies for both animal health and welfare and veterinary regulation.

The main areas under consideration in the review include the provision of 24-hour emergency cover and the interpretation and application of an animal being under the care of a veterinary surgeon. Further background details can be found on our dedicated 'Under care review' webpage

Under the original timetable, the review was due to start in late 2019, however, following discussions about the methodology within Standards Committee, the first stage will now start in April 2020.

Melissa Donald Melissa Donald (pictured right), Chair of our Standards Committee, explains: “Regretfully, as the scope and complexity of the review became clearer following Council’s approval of the project, it was also apparent that the original methodology, and the timetable set for it, was not going to be suitable to the task. Therefore, over the past few months, the Standards Committee and College staff have been working hard with the external research agency to revise the methodology and we have now reached the stage where we are confident we have got it right, and can now proceed with the review.

“While we regret the delay, as this review relates to fundamental principles about the provision of veterinary care, it is vital we get it right and that the process is as comprehensive as possible. It is better that it is right than rushed.”

Under the new methodology the review has been split into the following stages:

  • An evidence-gathering stage comprising focus group discussions starting this month and taking place across the UK (subject to the latest UK Government advice on COVID-19). For this stage the external research agency will be inviting a wide range of vets from across different sectors and practices to give their views. There will also be a separate focus group discussion for veterinary nurses. The outcome of these discussions will inform the format of and questions to be included in the second-stage survey. Stakeholders, including representative bodies and other veterinary groups, will also be asked for their input at this stage.
  • Following the analysis of the focus group discussions, an online survey for the veterinary professions will be launched in summer and will be live for six weeks. Informed by the views arising from the focus groups, this survey will invite views and feedback from the professions.
  • Any proposed changes to the Code of Professional Conduct and its supporting guidance on the concept of ‘under care’ and 24/7 emergency cover arising from the survey will be the subject of public consultation.

Melissa Donald added: “Invitations to our regional focus group discussions, which will be selected randomly from amongst the professions by our research agency, will be going out soon and I would urge anyone who receives an invitation to come along and share their views and ideas.”

More information on the evidence-gathering stage of the new process will be published in due course. For further background on the review please see the news archive on our Under Care webpage

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