Specialisation in the veterinary profession

This consultation has now closed.

Introduction by Professor Sir Kenneth Calman, Chairman of the RCVS Specialisation Working Party 

Specialisation in the veterinary profession

The RCVS has been running examinations leading to specialist postgraduate diplomas since 1967 and has operated a List of RCVS Recognised Specialists for 20 years.

The College has also been awarding non-specialist certificate qualifications since the 1980s and a growing number of veterinary surgeons have worked towards these qualifications to develop their clinical expertise.

But the public – and even some vets – appear to be confused about what the various qualifications signify, and what level of expertise they can expect from their vet.

My Working Party has been tasked with looking into the structures and routes to veterinary specialisation to see if there is scope for simplification and improvement.

In this paper, we have set out the background to the problem and proposed some possible solutions on which we now invite your views.

The picture is complex, and that complexity is compounded by the fact that the veterinary profession remains constrained by an old piece of legislation, the 1966 Veterinary Surgeons Act, which pre-dates these developments.

We see no immediate prospect of major changes to this legislation, although legal advice indicates that the RCVS could be more proactive in setting and applying standards in this area than previously thought because of developments in the regulation of other professions.

New legislation to introduce statutory registration for veterinary specialists would no doubt make things clearer, as it is for doctors and dentists, but, in the meantime, we believe there are a number of actions which the RCVS could take to improve matters.

If you are an interested member of the public, a veterinary surgeon or nurse, or if you represent other organisations with an interest in veterinary specialisation, please make time to consider this paper and let us have your views on our proposals.
If there is a consensus on the way forward, we would hope to put our recommendations to the RCVS committees and the RCVS Council early in 2012.


Deadline for comments

Please submit your comments by email on the questions in Chapter 10 by Friday 9 December. Head your email ‘Specialisation’ and send it to Freda Andrews, Head of Education at the RCVS email f.andrews@rcvs.org.uk.

The full consultation may be downloaded from the 'Related documents' box, above right.