Response to VN role comments in Vet Record article

14 March 2019

Following the comments made recently about the roles of veterinary nurses and veterinary surgeons that were reported by the Vet Record on 9 March 2019, Racheal Marshall, Chair of the Veterinary Nurses Council, and Amanda Boag, RCVS President, have written to the Editor. Their letter is set out below.

The Editor
Vet Record

15 March 2019

Dear Editor

It is extremely unfortunate that such a poor choice of language has been used recently to describe what is potentially a tremendously exciting and positive opportunity for the evolution of the veterinary nursing profession in the UK (‘Let’s give vets’ mundane work to nurses’, VR, 9 March 2019, vol 184, p299).

It does, however, present an opportunity to reaffirm our ongoing commitment to reviewing Schedule 3 to the Veterinary Surgeons Act, which we hope will present the first legislative opportunity in many years for veterinary nurses to extend the range of clinical tasks they are permitted to do. This will further increase their professional contribution to practice life and cement their position as a fundamental part of the vet-led team.

Legislative change takes time, however, and can only be achieved through careful preparation and sound rationale. We began our review back in 2017 with a professions-wide consultation on how the current system could be changed for the better and received overwhelming support from both veterinary nurses and veterinary surgeons for expanding the VN role.

The detailed feedback we received was considered by our Schedule 3 Working Party, which has since passed its findings to our Legislation Working Party (LWP). In turn, the LWP is discussing a range of proposals for expanding the VN role, about which it will be seeking further feedback from the professions in due course.

In the meantime, we are continuing to produce a variety of additional advice resources to help both vets and VNs comply with the legal complexities of Schedule 3, which will shortly include some further case studies and a delegation checklist poster.

We sincerely hope that these recent public comments, despite having caused evident frustration and disappointment amongst both veterinary nurses and veterinary surgeons, will ultimately further reinforce the veterinary professions’ clear support for an enhanced role for veterinary nurses, and help everyone to embrace the positive effects this will bring for both veterinary professionals and the animals we care for.

Yours faithfully

Racheal Marshall RVN
Chair, RCVS Veterinary Nurses Council

Amanda Boag MRCVS
President, Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons


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