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Veterinary Legislation Review

Between 2017 and 2020 our Legislation Working Party (LWP) undertook a wholescale, root-and-branch review of the legislation which governs the veterinary professions, as well as the role of the RCVS in interpreting and enforcing this legislation as the veterinary regulator.

It was the most substantial review of the professions’ legislative framework since the Veterinary Surgeons Act was introduced in 1966 and was launched to come up with recommendations for replacing the current Act , which was found to be archaic and no longer fit for purpose for the 21st century veterinary professions.

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The LWP’s resulting recommendations for what should be included in any future piece of legislation to replace in Veterinary Surgeons Act were published in 2020, and were subject to public consultation between November 2020 and April 2021. Some additional interim proposals for reform of our concerns investigation and disciplinary system which did not require new primary legislation were consulted upon at the same time.

RCVS Council decisions

In June 2021, the consultation responses were shared with RCVS Council who voted to adopt the recommendations of the Legislation Working Party’s final report on its proposals for future veterinary legislation.

You can read our recommendations in full in the RCVS Recommendations for Future Veterinary Legislation report.

These recommendations are designed to:

  • Strengthen the regulation of the vet-led team
  • Enhance the role of veterinary nurses
  • Modernise RCVS registration
  • Lead to a modern fitness to practise regime
  • Ensure the regulation of veterinary practices.

RCVS Council also approved some interim measures which do not require primary legislation which are:

  • the establishment of smaller-scale (‘mini’) Preliminary Investigation Committees (PICs) to help speed up and streamline the concerns investigation process by ensuring that cases will be considered and decided upon more promptly
  •  the establishment of a Charter Case Protocol where cases that meet the threshold for a full disciplinary hearing, but which might be likely to attract a lesser sanction, may be concluded, with the consent of all parties, without recourse to a full, public Disciplinary Committee hearing.

Download the full report

Download a summary of the report

Next steps

We have formally submitted our recommendations to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), with a view to seeking new legislation to replace the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 and we continue to engage with stakeholders on the need for this reform.

We are working to implement the interim measures concerning our concerns investigation and disciplinary processes.


We have produced a range of additional resources to assist in the understanding of these recommendations.

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