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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.

Update (30 April 2021): The next stage of the review is due to start in early May, with an online survey for UK-based veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses that will be open for four weeks. Invitations to complete this survey will be emailed from our independent research consultancy, The RAND Corporation. We will email the professions with further details in due course. 


This 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.


Although we announced the start of the review in late 2019, its proposed methodology and subsequent progress during 2020 has been significantly impacted by the pandemic (see 'Related news stories' below).

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 in early May) 
  • 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. (Planned for autumn 2021) 

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