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Review of 'under care' and 24/7 emergency cover

We have launched a wide-ranging review of our guidance to the veterinary professions on 'under care' and 24/7 emergency cover.

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This three-stage review was recommended to RCVS Council by our Standards Committee following its lengthy and detailed exploration of the implications of new technologies for both animal health and welfare and veterinary regulation – a key strategic objective for the RCVS, first identified as part of the Vet Futures initiative in 2015.

The main areas under consideration include the provision of 24/7 emergency cover and the interpretation and application of an animal being under the care of a veterinary surgeon. The review also encompasses, but is not limited to, consideration of issues around remote consulting in the form of vet-to-client telemedicine.

The review

The review’s progress has been significantly impacted by the pandemic over the last 14 months, with the initial evidence-gathering stage having to be moved entirely online before being completed earlier this year.

Nevertheless, the three main stages to the review, and their progress, are summarised as follows:

  • Stage 1: Evidence-gathering - seeking views and experiences from a wide range of veterinary professionals across multiple sectors, via a series of focus group discussions. (Completed)
  • Stage 2: Analysis and feedback: using the analysis of information gained from Stage 1, along with additional stakeholder submissions and data from our Covid surveys, to formulate an online qualitative survey to gain the views and feedback of UK-based veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses. (Launching on 19 May 2021) 
  • Stage 3: Public consultation: 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 in Stage 2 will be the subject of public consultation. (Yet to start)

We have commissioned RAND Europe, an independent specialist research agency, to conduct the review on our behalf.

Who can respond

Please note: following feedback we have received RAND have now updated the survey to enable all UK-based non-practising veterinary surgeons to take part.

The Under Care Review is currently at Stage 2, comprising an anonymous online survey for UK-based veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses.

Stage 3, later this year, will comprise a full public consultation, with contributions welcome from the veterinary professions, the animal-owning public and other stakeholders.

How to respond

The survey will open on Wednesday, 19 May 2021 for all UK-based veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses.

An email containing a personalised link to the survey will be sent on RAND Europe’s behalf by their partner company, Accent, from the email address All responses will be used and reported anonymously, so respondents will not be identified.

The survey will be open for four weeks, closing at 5pm on Wednesday, 16 June 2021. It should take 15-20 minutes to complete, but can be returned to and completed in stages if preferred.


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