Draft Code of Professional Conduct for Veterinary Surgeons

Draft Code of Professional Conduct for Veterinary Surgeons - a consultation

This consultation has now closed.

RCVS Council has approved a draft Code of Professional Conduct for consultation. 

The aim of the draft Code is to acknowledge that privileges and responsibilities go hand in hand and set out both the guiding principles and responsibilities relating to the professional conduct of veterinary surgeons.

We are now keen to hear the views of both the profession and members of the public.


Working Party recommendations

In 2010, we established a Working Party to review the Guides to Professional Conduct for both veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses to ensure the content, format and presentation meet the current and foreseeable needs of the veterinary team and animal-owning public.

Both the Advisory Committee and RCVS Council support the Working Party’s recommendation that the new Code should: 

  • be a short, principles-based document using the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe’s Code of Conduct as the starting point;
  • include a compulsory continuing professional development requirement and the RCVS Health Protocol, more on clinical competence and give prominence to relevant medicines issues;
  • use consistent language to distinguish between what must be done and what is advised;
  • be supported by additional advice on specific areas of veterinary practice or issues, for example, clinical governance; and,
  • be available in electronic and hard copy, with links or references to any additional RCVS advice

The resulting draft Code is a marked change in style and format from the existing Guide. It includes a revised declaration, which underlines the primary importance of animal health and welfare:

"I PROMISE AND SOLEMNLY DECLARE that my constant endeavour will be to ensure the welfare of animals committed to my care and that I will pursue the work of my profession with integrity and accept my responsibilities to my clients, the public, the profession and the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons."

It also includes shorter principles-based sections and a five-point list outlining that “the overarching duty of veterinary surgeons is to ensure the welfare of animals committed to their care and to fulfil their professional duties, by maintaining:

  • Professional competence
  • Honesty and integrity
  • Independence and impartiality
  • Client confidentiality and trust
  • Professional accountability

A separate document is under development for veterinary nurses, which will share broadly similar underlying principles and will be the subject of separate consultation.


Feedback from profession and public

The new Code was approved by RCVS Council in draft form to allow for online consultation with members of the profession and the public.

We recognise that advice provided to veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses on professional conduct is fundamental to the way that veterinary services are provided to animals and the public, and consider that consultation should be undertaken at an early stage.

The feedback we receive from this consultation exercise will help our Working Party to complete the drafting of the new Code for veterinary surgeons, before seeking final approval from RCVS Council.

We would like to receive comments from members of the public and members of the profession on the Code of Professional Conduct for Veterinary Surgeons, in particular, the 49 professional responsibilities set out in the Code.


Deadline for comments

Please send your comments by email to Christopher Murdoch, Secretary to the Guide Review Working Party, at c.murdoch@rcvs.org.uk by Friday, 24 June 2011.


Download the consultation paper and draft Code of Professional Conduct from the 'Related documents' box, top right.

View the current RCVS Guide to Professional Conduct.