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Veterinary Legislation Review

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

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The LWP’s resulting recommendations were published in 2020, and were subject to public consultation between November 2020 and April 2021. Some additional ‘interim proposals’ not requiring primary legislation were consulted upon at the same time.

Analysis of the consultation results can be found in the Report of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) Legislative Reform Consultation.

RCVS Council decisions

The consultation responses were shared with RCVS Council in June 2021. Members voted to adopt the recommendations of the Legislation Working Party’s final report on its proposals for future veterinary legislation. These recommendations are designed to:

  • 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.

Read the Consultation Report.

The recommendations can be read in full on our Legislation Reform Consultation Pages.

Next steps

We will now be submitting these 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.

Meanwhile, we will work 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 the LWP's recommendations.