Coronavirus (Covid-19)

As the regulator for vets and vet nurses in the UK, our priority is the health and safety of those we regulate. We hope the information in this section will empower you to make decisions that will enable you to protect yourselves and your clients during the pandemic, whilst continuing to provide the best care you can to your patients at this extremely challenging time.

We have introduced updated guidance for veterinary professionals on how you can continue to undertake veterinary work during the extended lockdown period. This updated guidance includes a new flow chart to help you decide whether or not to carry out a particular type of work.

Our FAQs are available on the following pages, and listed in full below. We will continue to update these in response to any further changes. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Coronavirus advice

  • Veterinary practices are not on the list of businesses and premises that need to close and, as such, may open where necessary.

    However, in order to comply with government guidance, the number of clients seen face-to-face should be kept to an absolute minimum (see FAQ 2) and, where clients are seen, you should ensure you follow the relevant guidance on social distancing.

    In terms of those working within the practice, vulnerable employees (eg those who are aged over 70, have underlying health conditions or are pregnant) should be encouraged to stay at home.

    Other team members should only attend the practice when necessary.

    You should also familiarise yourself with, and follow, the government’s guidance for employers and businesses to ensure you are following best practice to curb the spread of the virus and protect your team.

    Contact the Advice Team: advice@rcvs.org.uk or 020 7202 0789

    Last updated: 24 March 2020

  • Although veterinary practices may remain open, it is vital to continue to comply with current government guidelines on working safely, which vary by nation within the UK, and to be mindful of the relevant guidance for members of the public.

    When deciding whether or not to carry out a particular type of work, you should refer to the flowchart below (also available to download as a pdf) and use it to guide you through the decision-making process.

    Coronavirus practice flow chart (19 May 2020)

    Please note:

    We have considered and produced the flowchart and associated guidance for the veterinary profession in line with the latest UK government advice to employers and businesses, UK government sector guidance on social distancing in the workplace (retail) and Welsh government guidance on taking all reasonable measures to maintain physical distancing in the workplace.

    This flowchart was originally published on 9 April 2020, and then updated on 19 May 2020 with some minor amendments.

    A print-ready version of this flowchart is also available to download as a PDF document.

    Contact the Advice Team: advice@rcvs.org.uk or 020 7202 0789

    Last updated: 19 May 2020

  • You will need to decide whether the animal needs to be seen now, whether the case can be supported remotely or whether treatment can be delayed. If, after triaging the animal, you feel it is necessary to see them, consider whether it could be brought to you (or you go to it) without putting your own, or someone else’s, health at unnecessary risk.

    For example, ask whether another person can bring the animal to the practice, or another appropriate location, on the owner’s behalf.

    Government guidance states that there is no evidence of coronavirus circulating in pets or other animals in the UK and there is nothing to suggest animals may transmit the disease to humans. However, if you do decide to see the animal in person, normal biosecurity measures, as well as additional government guidance on hand washing, should be observed.

    Consider the extent to which you can assist remotely - this may include giving advice via remote means as to how to manage the animal’s condition at home. It may also include remote prescribing of POM-V medicines as appropriate (see FAQ 4 for full details). In this scenario, document your rationale for your decision making to ensure you can justify your actions if asked to do so.

    In cases where POM-V medicines are prescribed remotely, you should ensure that either you are in a position to examine the animal yourself or that it can be examined by another veterinary surgeon if its condition deteriorates to the point where remote support is inadequate. There may be instances where, in order to ensure your own safety, an animal needs to be taken away from its owners to undergo treatment, or euthanasia, for welfare reasons. This is likely to be particularly upsetting as most owners will want to be with their animal when they are put to sleep. As such, you may wish to consider whether you can direct them to an appropriate source of support, for example a bereavement or counselling service.

    Contact the Advice Team: advice@rcvs.org.uk or 020 7202 0789

    Last updated: 13 May 2020

  • Under normal circumstances, this is not permitted by the RCVS Code of Professional Conduct or supporting guidance. However, in light of recent government guidance to limit non-essential contact with others, RCVS Council has decided that there should be a temporary departure from this position and that remote prescribing of POM-V medicines (including medicines prescribed under the cascade and those imported under the Veterinary Medicines Directorate’s Special Import Scheme for veterinary imports) should be permitted where it is appropriate to do so (see below). RCVS Council will review this position on an ongoing basis and in any event, no later than 30 June 2020.

    We hope that this will enable veterinary surgeons to continue prioritising animal welfare without putting themselves, or their colleagues, at risk.  

    In line with the flowchart referred to in FAQ 2, in non-emergency cases veterinary surgeons should consider whether they can support the case effectively via remote means in the first instance.

    The current situation is exceptional and as such you may prescribe POM-V medicines via remote means. However, before doing so, you must be satisfied that:

    • you have enough information to do so safely without physically examining the animal
    • there is no suitable alternative, categorised as a POM-VPS, NFA-VPS, or AVM-GSL
    • the risk to the animal and/or public health is outweighed by the benefit.

    If you are satisfied regarding the above, you should then consider the following:

    • Whether immediate action is necessary in the interests of animal welfare.
    • Whether treatment can be delayed until a physical examination is possible.
    • Whether it is possible to examine the animal without having contact with the owner and if so, whether it would assist.
    • The nature of the medication.
    • The appropriate quantity, taking into account factors such as the length of time until a physical examination of the animal will be possible and the length of time until the owner will be able to access medication by other means.
    • The risks and benefits to the animal.
    • The client’s view and understanding of the risks.

    You should also ensure that:

    • any consent given by the client is fully informed
    • you make detailed notes of your decision and the reasons for it
    • you can justify any decision that you make.

    In cases where POM-V medicines are prescribed remotely, you should ensure that either you are in a position to examine the animal yourself or that it can be examined by another veterinary surgeon if its condition deteriorates to the point where remote support is inadequate. You should also provide the owner with all of the information they need to administer the medicine safely and ensure they have a means to contact you (or a colleague) in the event they have any questions or problems.

    Approaching cases in this way is aimed at limiting the number of instances where animal owners need to leave their homes to access veterinary care, which is in the wider interest of maintaining public health.

    When prescribing remotely, you should follow the BSAVA Guide to the Use of Veterinary Medicines, which contains useful information in relation to emailing prescriptions and posting veterinary medicines. See also the Royal Mail’s guidance on posting prescription medication.

    NB If you are approached by members of the public who are not existing clients of your practice, where possible they should be directed to the practice where they are registered in the first instance. Our current supporting guidance on ‘Communication between professional colleagues’ may be useful.

    Contact the Advice Team: advice@rcvs.org.uk or 020 7202 0789

    Last updated: 9 April 2020

    • Where it is necessary to see an animal in person:
      • ask clients if they or a member of their household are currently self-isolating or have tested positive for the virus when booking appointments and before attending any home/farm visits or offsite consultations
      • reduce the number of people attending the premises to the absolute minimum (see FAQ 2) and limit physical contact with clients wherever possible (see FAQs 1 & 2). This could be achieved by asking that only one person accompanies an animal when attending the practice, or by asking clients to wait in the waiting room, outside or even their cars while you examine their animal. The consultation with the owner could then take place over the telephone.
    • Carry out risk assessments for all staff and observe government guidance on social distancing
    • Encourage team members who are considered vulnerable, eg are aged over 70, have underlying health issues or are pregnant, to stay at home.
    • Familiarise yourself with, and follow, the government’s guidance for employers and businesses to ensure you are following best practice to curb the spread of the virus and protect your team.
    • Familiarise yourself with guidance on infection prevention and control from the UK Government and devolved administrations (where available, as follows) and consider whether any of the suggested measures could be applicable and implemented at your practice:

    Contact the Advice Team: advice@rcvs.org.uk or 020 7202 0789

    Last updated: 24 March 2020

  • If you and your practice are unable to meet the government's social distancing guidelines, which include giving thought to limiting unnecessary travel, then the procedure should not go ahead unless there is an animal health risk, and only then when care has been given to additional risk assessment and PPE. 

    While the College does not regulate businesses, we do require that every practice has a senior named veterinary surgeon who takes responsibility for clinical policy and it would be to that person that we would look if we hear that business as usual is being pursued in a reckless fashion, rather than careful judgement being exercised. 

    It may assist to draw your employer’s attention to the most recent guidance for employers and businesses and social distancing.

    If you are concerned about how the virus may affect your employment, for example you are in the government’s list of vulnerable adults (eg those aged over 70, with underlying health conditions, or who are pregnant) and you wish to stay at home, you should refer to the government guidance for employees.

    If you are a member of a veterinary association or union that has a legal helpline, you may also wish to contact them for assistance with matters relating to your employment.

    In addition, there is also specific coronavirus advice from ACAS for both employers and employees.

    Contact the Advice Team: advice@rcvs.org.uk or 020 7202 0789

    Last updated: 15 April 2020

  • In recognition of the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions brought in by the UK Government in order to control its transmission, we have reduced by 25% the number of hours of CPD that you will have to complete during 2020.

    Therefore, this year, the annual minimum requirement for veterinary surgeons will be reduced from 35 to 26 hours of CPD, while that of veterinary nurses will be reduced from 15 to 11 hours.

    The reduction comes into force immediately to help relieve the pressure on you in facing significant and competing challenges in the coming weeks and months.

    We recognise that, although some veterinary professionals have seen a reduced workload and may well take this opportunity to do CPD, many will now be juggling their professional responsibilities with increased family, childcare and other caring responsibilities and may, therefore, be finding it difficult to plan for and undertake CPD.

    A similar 25% reduction pro rata (for 2020) will also be introduced for veterinary surgeons holding Advanced Practitioner or RCVS Specialist status, as retaining these statuses requires additional hours of CPD across a 5-year period, including in the specific areas of designation.

    We would urge you to remember, however, that our CPD policy for vets and vet nurses already allows for many different types of learning and development, not just attending physical events.

    While going to conferences and other events may not be possible for many for the time being, there is a wide variety of CPD that you can still access, including webinars, online learning, and reading relevant journals.

    We understand that, in some cases, the organisers of cancelled events are working to make the learning resources available online instead.

    There is a range of resources that you may find helpful on our website, including blog posts and videos about types of CPD to consider. Please visit www.rcvs.org.uk/cpd2020.

    Read our full statement

    Contact the CPD team: cpd@rcvs.org.uk or 020 3795 5595

    Last updated: 30 March 2020

  • Following discussions with Vet Schools Council (VSC), on 16 March RCVS Council agreed to temporarily suspend its Extra-Mural Studies (EMS) requirements for UK veterinary students, in response to the coronavirus outbreak and the associated restrictions. This position will be reviewed in due course. 

    Read the full statement on our temporary EMS suspension. This statement also outlines the fact that final year veterinary students have had the number of weeks of EMS they are expected to complete in order to graduate lowered from 38 weeks, to 30 weeks.

    In April, the RCVS COVID-19 Taskforce, in discussion with the Veterinary Schools Council, also considered the impact of the restrictions on veterinary students in the 4th year and below. It has now decided that current 4th year students should not be prevented from graduating, providing they have completed their 12 weeks pre-clinical EMS and at least 50% (13 weeks) of clinical EMS, in addition to demonstrating that they have achieved all the RCVS Day One Competences.

    Please read the full statement on these further changes, along with the letter sent to veterinary students.

    Contact the Education Team: education@rcvs.org.uk / 020 7202 0791

    Last updated: 9 April 2020

  • Several universities have expressed concerns regarding student veterinary nurses’ attendance/employment in clinical placement over the coming weeks, due to the precautions around transmission of Coronavirus.

    This applies, in the main, to students in all years of a programme, although there are particular concerns as to the impact this will have on final-year students being unable to complete the required number of hours in order to complete their programme and achieve their licence to practise qualification.

    There have also been concerns raised over the completion of the RCVS Day One Skills for Veterinary Nurses (DOS) should students be unable to attend their clinical placements.

    RCVS Day One Competences and Day One Skills for Veterinary Nurses set out the minimum essential requirements that we expect all student nurses to have met when they register, to ensure they are safe and competent to practise on day one, in whichever area of the profession they start to work. 

    Universities and awarding organisations have requested a degree of flexibility around the RCVS VN Registration Rules and completion of the RCVS Day One Skills, in light of the Covid-19 situation.

    The following therefore applies:

    • We recognise that it should not be compulsory for students to complete clinical placements within the next eight weeks, after which the situation will be reviewed*. This will apply to students in any year of their studies.
    • We recognise that for students in their final year of study, it may be difficult for them to make up the hours of clinical placement missed prior to achieving their qualification. Universities and colleges should continue to support students and explore alternatives, however any shortfall relative to the requirements should not be a barrier to completion of the programme.
    • For BSc students in years 1 to 3 of their studies, FdSc students in years 1 and 2 of their studies and first year further education students, we would expect that there will be sufficient time for them to make up the number of hours prior to completing the programme. However we will review this as the Covid-19 pandemic progresses.
    • Student veterinary nurses will still be required to complete the Day One Skills for Veterinary Nurses in their totality as these seek to assure competency at the point of registration. Where a student has completed the Day One Skills in fewer than the 1,800 hours, this will be assessed on a case-by-case basis on application to register.

    NB We have also published advice about OSCEs and unseen examinations - please read FAQ12

    Contact the VN team:  vetnursing@rcvs.org.uk / 020 7202 0788

    *This guidance was first published on 27 March and updated again on 2 June to extend the period of clinical placements for a further 8 weeks, after which the situation will be reviewed again.

    Last updated: 2 June 2020

  • On 20 March 2020, we published a joint statement with the British Veterinary Association containing guidance on the status of veterinary surgeons as 'key workers' in relation to school closures as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

    This follows lobbying of government by both the RCVS and BVA on this subject.

    Read the full statement here

    With regard to veterinary nurses, the British Veterinary Nursing Association published the following statement on 21 March 2020: 

    Why RVN's aren't considered 'key workers' 

    Please also read FAQ 21 'Do veterinary professionals qualify for coronavirus testing under the government’s guidelines?'.

     

    Contact the Advice Team: advice@rcvs.org.uk or 020 7202 0789

    Last updated: 22 March 2020

  • We have published a new flowchart, effective 14 April, which takes you through a decision-making process for all veterinary interventions within the context of the coronavirus pandemic.

    This puts the decision as to which vaccinations can be carried out into your hands, using your veterinary clinical judgement.

    We feel this is the best way to ensure that you can start to address specific disease pressures in your geographical area, while prioritising the health of your teams, clients and the wider public, and adhering to the latest government advice on social distancing.

    Contact the Advice Team: advice@rcvs.org.uk / 020 7202 0789

    Last updated: 14 April 2020

  • In light of the UK government’s announcement on Monday 23 March 2020 around reducing all non-essential contact, RCVS Veterinary Nurses Council has asked all veterinary nursing educators to defer their OSCE assessments for a period of three months.

    Following consideration of a number of alternative methods of delivery for the OSCE assessment, it was concluded that none was possible under the current circumstances and the health and welfare of students and examiners are paramount.

    In addition, VN Council is encouraging both further and higher education institutions to ensure students can continue to progress academically and has requested that institutions use secure systems to deliver any unseen assessments or defer these assessment until such time as they can be appropriately and safely delivered.

    Read our full statement

    NB We have also published advice about clinical placements - please read FAQ 9

    Contact the VN team:  vetnursing@rcvs.org.uk / 020 7202 0788

    Last updated: 27 March 2020

  • We recognise that remote approval and quality monitoring activities will reduce the risk of Coronavirus transmission to college staff, training practice staff, students and the public.

    Utilisation of desk-based activities and video-conferencing technology should be considered during this unique time.

    Where remote centre or training practice approval has taken place, we would expect a follow-up visit in person once the coronavirus outbreak is under control, in line with the prevailing government advice.

    Contact the VN team:  vetnursing@rcvs.org.uk / 020 7202 0788

    NB This guidance was first published on 27 March and reviewed on 2 June. The situation will be reviewed again in 8 weeks' time.

    Last updated: 2 June 2020

  • In light of the UK Government’s advice on reducing transmission through social distancing measures, as well as a number of travel bans being put in place on an international level, we have made the decision to postpone the 2020 diet of the Statutory Membership Examination.

    We are exploring options for running the written component of the examination remotely, whilst also ensuring that appropriate security measures are in place to ensure the integrity of the examination, with the aim of carrying this out during the summer of 2020. 

    Due to the suspension of teaching at all UK veterinary schools, the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) component will also be postponed. We are working closely with the venue to secure new dates for the end of 2020.

    Our Education Team is supporting all 2020 Statutory Examination candidates with regular updates, and can be contacted on rcvsexam@rcvs.org.uk or 020 7965 1104.

    Last updated: 31 March 2020

  • As is the case for all veterinary services, when considering referral of a patient, our flowchart in FAQ 2 should be followed by both the referring vet and referral veterinary team.

    If a physical referral is necessary, contact with the animal’s owner should be limited as much as possible and the government’s guidance on social distancing should be observed.

    You should also consider the following factors:

    • The extent to which remote means can be used to offer tailored advice and/or other services to veterinary colleagues and clients (for more information relating to remote prescribing, see FAQ 4)
    • The location of the referral centre, ensuring that it is as close to the client as possible in order to avoid unnecessary travel
    • The need for physical rechecks of ongoing referral patients; some physical rechecks may be necessary, eg for the administration of chemotherapy or management of orthopaedic apparatus, but these should be performed only having considered whether a remote or more local approach is possible

    This guidance will be reviewed on a regular basis as the situation develops.

    Contact the Advice Team: advice@rcvs.org.uk or 020 7202 0789

    Last updated 22 April 2020

  • On a temporary basis, yes. In circumstances where your RVPP are inaccessible due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) is allowing the supply of veterinary medicines from temporary premises until your RVPP is accessible again.

    In order to supply medicines from temporary premises, you must notify the VMD and the RCVS in writing (email is acceptable) of the address of these temporary premises. This notice must include:

    • The full address and post code
    • The existing RVPP registration number
    • Details of the storage of your medicines, including controlled drugs;
    • A declaration that you undertake to comply with the Veterinary Medicines Regulations.

    When supplying medicines from temporary premises, you must continue to store controlled drugs securely and appropriately in a suitable cabinet to prevent unauthorised access, in line with the Misuse of Drugs (Safe Custody) Regulations 1973 and our Controlled Drugs Guidance.

    To notify the VMD and RCVS of any changes, please email inspections@vmd.gov.uk and registration@rcvs.org.uk

    For further information, please see the VMD guidance.

    Contact the Advice Team: advice@rcvs.org.uk or 020 7202 0789

    Last updated: 6 April 2020

  • As veterinary surgeons or veterinary nurses, you are in an excellent position to offer your unique skills, training and expertise to help in the national effort to fight the pandemic, should you be able and willing to do so.

    Here are a number of ways in which you could help.

     

    Maintaining the food supply

    If you have worked as Red or White Meat Official Veterinarians (OV) within the last five years and have let your designation status lapse, we would urge you to contact the relevant agency for food standards in your part of the UK, as your skills are needed now to support efforts to keep the food chain running during the pandemic.

    If you fit the bill, and are able to work, please contact operations@fss.scot in Scotland, jon.stanford@eandj.co.uk in England/Wales, or VSAHG.BMBEmployeeRelations@daera-ni.gov.uk in Northern Ireland.

     

    Can you help keep food imports flowing?

    Checks at Border Control Posts are important for protecting animal and public health and need to be done without unnecessarily delaying imports of food from outside the EU.

    This is not yet a call for those who might be interested, but if you are near a port with a Border Control Post and would be interested in this sort of work, please keep a look out for further requests.

     

    Supporting the livestock industry (Scotland)

    If you are based in Scotland and able to offer skilled support to farmers who become ill or need to self-isolate, to ensure their animals continue to be looked after, please email scotland@lantra.co.uk.

     

    Donate veterinary equipment

    If your practice has not already done so, please fill out this survey with details of any veterinary equipment that you might be able to loan/donate to support frontline medical teams in their efforts to fight the pandemic.

    Such equipment may include NHS-compatible ventilators, anaesthetic equipment/gases (NB see cautionary note about propofol) and PPE.

    Please ensure your practice only responds once to this survey to avoid double-counting of resources.

     

    NHS Volunteer Army

    The NHS is calling for volunteers to help the nation’s 1.5 million vulnerable people who have been asked to shield themselves from coronavirus because of underlying health conditions. This help involves simple but vital tasks such as:

    • delivering medicines from pharmacies,
    • driving patients to appointments,
    • bringing them home from hospital, or
    • making regular phone calls to check on people isolating at home.

    NHS Volunteer Army

     

    Work directly with NHS Trusts

    We understand that many vets and vet nurses are keen to offer help in areas such as healthcare, diagnostic testing and biosecurity. We also understand that some NHS Trusts may already be advertising for assistance or approaching veterinary professionals directly.

    Whilst this may be possible, there are certain legal restrictions on the assistance you can lawfully provide and how you should represent yourself to patients.

    It is our understanding that under current proposals, it is not intended that vets or vet nurses would register on an emergency basis with any other regulator, eg GMC, NMC.

    However, local NHS Trusts could employ people to undertake roles that are not reserved by law to licensed doctors or other regulated professionals, providing they are satisfied that the individual has the skills and competences to do that role. Anyone employed in these roles locally should not misrepresent their position to patients and must be careful not to hold themselves out as a licensed doctor. They should also be very clear about their role regarding any patient and consider with those employing them all issues relating to consent.

    To support you in any decision you might make to work with your local NHS Trust, we recommend that you:

    • obtain a clear job description that clearly defines the tasks that you will be required to undertake, and do not deviate from these;
    • satisfy yourself that you have the skills and competencies to undertake the tasks outlined in this job description;
    • satisfy yourself that none of these tasks is reserved by law to licensed doctors or other regulated professionals;
    • ensure you are given local training appropriate to the tasks outlined in this job description; and,
    • check that you are appropriately indemnified by the NHS Trust for the work that you are being asked to do (NB NHS Resolution has confirmed that those brought in to help in NHS Trusts in England will be provided with free indemnity cover for civil liabilities; however, those working in NHS Trusts in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland should first check with the individual Trust).

    We would also ask you please to remember that even though you might be working in a different capacity, you remain registered with the RCVS. As such, we are obligated to remind you that any concerns raised about you regarding these activities (however unlikely this would be) could fall under our broad regulatory remit.

    We have also received NHS Trust advice that anyone considering working for an NHS Trust in roles where there may be patient contact should ideally be under 45 years old, and have no risk factors at all in the way of respiratory compromise or immunosuppression.

    We recognise that the government’s current priority is in re-recruiting retired and non-practising medical health professionals, and granting provisional registration to final-year medical students, and that the GMC is making significant advances in these areas.

    To this end, we would encourage you to first consider what assistance you might be able to provide to the livestock production, meat hygiene and food import/export industries, as set out above, before volunteering to assist directly with local NHS Trusts.

     

    Clinical Contact Caseworkers

    Following the NHS launch of a test and trace service to help speed up testing for anyone with coronavirus symptoms and track that person’s recent contacts, we understand that NHS Professionals has been recruiting Clinical Contact Caseworkers to help run this service.

    We have spoken to the relevant authorities in England, Scotland and Wales about what insurance implications there may be for veterinary professionals undertaking this role. These are as follows:

    England

    Veterinary professionals who are engaged by NHS Professionals to undertake test and trace duties for the Department of Health and Social Care/Public Health England are covered for clinical negligence risks under the Clinical Negligence Scheme for Coronavirus, which is administered by NHS Resolution on behalf of the Secretary of State.

    Scotland

    Veterinary professionals employed by, or volunteering for, an NHS Scotland Board are covered for clinical negligence risks by the Clinical Negligence and Other Risks Indemnity Scheme (CNORIS), managed by NHS National Services Scotland. Employment in a contact tracer role by NHS Scotland would be via an NHS Scotland Board and therefore covered by CNORIS.

    Wales

    A Contact Tracing System in Wales was announced by the Welsh Government on 1 June 2020. We are therefore seeking further clarification from NHS Wales on the provision of indemnity for veterinary professionals employed in a contact tracer role. In the meantime, it is important that you check the insurance situation yourself if you are seeking to undertake this role in Wales.

    Northern Ireland

    We have also made enquiries with the relevant authorities in Northern Ireland, and will update this FAQ when that information becomes available. In the meantime, it is important that you check the insurance situation yourself if you are seeking to undertake this role in Northern Ireland.

     

    Call to final year students

    Have you finished your course and are wondering how you can use your veterinary training to help with the Covid-19 response?

    The government, supported by the Royal College, are working hard to keep the livestock food chain moving, both to ensure a safe food supply and to protect animal health and welfare. Veterinary graduates have unique skills and training that make them well placed to help with this work.

    Veterinary graduates have already completed most of the Official Auxiliary (Meat Hygiene Inspector) theory training as part of their course. Many vets start their careers in Veterinary Public Heath as Official Auxiliaries (Meat Hygiene Inspectors) and move on to complete the OV training while in that role.

    If you are interested in finding out more about how your unique professional training can support the whole community during the Covid-19 response, then there are various opportunities available in England, Scotland and Wales in this important area of work. This would include a training, mentoring and further development programme which may allow migration into a full Official Veterinarian role post-graduation.

    If you think you can help, please contact recruitment@eandj.co.uk in England/Wales, operations@fss.scot in Scotland.

     

    Contact the Advice Team: advice@rcvs.org.uk or 020 7202 0789

    Last updated: 2 June 2020

  • Based on the experience of other countries, we recognise that the lockdown period may last in some form for several more weeks or even months. This means that animal health and welfare issues that are not a priority today could become so over the coming weeks and months without veterinary intervention.  Whereas human medical resources are being diverted to the Covid-19 fight resulting in NHS hospitals focusing on emergency work, on the whole this isn’t the case with veterinary staff. Human medical care also involves close person-to-person contact (and therefore much higher risk) than veterinary care, where a large amount can be done with minimal human contact.

    That said, the updated guidance does not represent ‘business as usual’. Decisions need to be taken in the light of the current very stringent government advice for social distancing – and that applies to clients and staff.

  • Government advice is that where possible, and following social distancing, work should go on. In no way are we expecting you to provide services that you don’t feel are appropriate. Our new flowchart is designed explicitly to allow you the flexibility to decide that is best in your own individual circumstances.

    As ever, we trust veterinary professionals to make decisions based on the specific situation with which they are faced, and their local knowledge. All practices are different, with different facilities, staffing levels, species and local disease threats – our guidance, which all vets and nurses need to abide by, allows everyone to operate to the best of their abilities.

  • If you are unable to microchip a puppy while maintaining social distancing and adequate biosecurity, for example, if the owner is self-isolating, both you and the animal owner should make a note that the issue was considered thoroughly and decided against on public health grounds.

    With your support, the dog owner should make every effort to remedy the situation as soon as circumstances and/or government guidance on social distancing allow.

    Contact the Advice Team: advice@rcvs.org.uk or 020 7202 0789

    Last updated: 28 April 2020

  • There are different arrangements on eligibility and access to coronavirus testing in the different countries of the UK. Please see below for details of the system in place in your country.

    Please note that, in different countries, specific arrangements apply to prioritise those sectors accessing testing. Again, please check individual national guidance for details.

     

    England

    All ‘essential workers’, which includes veterinary professionals, are eligible for testing if displaying coronavirus symptoms.

    Practice support staff may also be eligible as access to testing also includes those where the work being undertaken by them cannot be done from home.

    Read the full UK government guidance including details on how to be tested here

     

    Wales

    To be eligible for a test you must be a ‘critical worker’ presenting with coronavirus symptoms. Further clarification is awaited from the Welsh government as to whether veterinary professionals in Wales fall into this broad category.

    Read the Welsh government guidance including details on how to be tested

     

    Scotland

    The Scottish government has widened testing for symptomatic ‘key workers’ which includes those working in animal health and welfare, and so includes veterinary professionals in Scotland.

    Read the Scottish government guidance including details on how to be tested

     

    Northern Ireland

    Those providing veterinary services in Northern Ireland are included within the category of ‘essential or key workers’ who are eligible to access testing.

    Read the NI Public Health Agency Guidance including details on how to be tested

     

    Please refer to FAQ 10 for more information on ‘key worker’ status in relation to school closures as a result of the pandemic.

    Contact the Advice Team: advice@rcvs.org.uk or 020 7202 0789

    Last updated: 01 May 2020

  • You should only undertake testing for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in animals where it is in the interest of the health and welfare of the animal and is in line with APHA guidance. It should not be a screening test.

    You should be mindful of the fact that SARS-CoV-2 appears to be a very rare cause of mild clinical disease; other differentials should be considered, investigated and ruled out as more likely causes of clinical signs before performing testing for SARS-CoV-2  

    The small number of animals worldwide which have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 to date have shown only mild respiratory signs and gastrointestinal distress. In the absence of a specific treatment for the virus, testing for SARS-CoV-2 has not, and should not, result in alteration to case management. You are therefore urged to carefully consider before undertaking any such test and the benefit to the specific animal.

    Where it is intended that clinical research projects are to be undertaken, for instance, utilising blood that is derived from clinical sampling, ie for a diagnostic or treatment purpose, or via non-invasive sampling, eg swabs, these should be the subject of appropriate ethical review . Otherwise, sampling to answer research investigations is regulated by The Home Office under The Animal (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986.

    Collecting samples from animals must only be undertaken with due consideration to the current social distancing requirements. Further, as confirmed contact with a suspect human case is one of the criteria for considering testing (see APHA guidance) particular caution should be taken when handling the animal due to the risk of it acting as a fomite.

    If, after careful consideration, you feel that testing for SARS-CoV-2 is necessary, you should assess the types of samples that are needed, ie check with the lab before collection to get it right first time and avoid unnecessary handling or repeat sampling of the animal.

    Please note that although SARS-CoV-2 is currently not a notifiable disease in animals in the UK (or EU), nevertheless, you have a professional obligation to report positive test results to the competent authority - Office of the UK Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO) in England and respective CVOs in the devolved administrations - to support the UK's international reporting obligations to the OIE.

     

    Contact the Advice Team: advice@rcvs.org.uk or 020 7202 0789

    Last updated: 13 May 2020 

  • The new UK border rules introduced due to coronavirus state that any person returning to the UK from overseas (excluding Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man) must provide their journey and contact details, and self-isolate for 14 days after arrival.

    There are exemptions in place for some travellers, including certain veterinary surgeons, as follows:

    • Veterinary surgeons involved in the food supply chain, and
    • Official Veterinarians (OVs) working on official controls at the border

    Those veterinary surgeons involved in the food supply chain are exempt under the following guideline, with the food supply being covered under ‘goods’:

    a worker with specialist technical skills, where those specialist technical skills are required for essential or emergency works or services (including commissioning, maintenance, and repairs and safety checks) to ensure the continued production, supply, movement, manufacture, storage or preservation of goods

    The full list of exemptions is available on the government website.

    No other veterinary professionals are currently exempt, although the government may review this in future.

    Contact the Advice Team: advice@rcvs.org.uk or 020 7202 0789

    Last updated: 1 June 2020