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Which accreditation is right for your practice and how to apply

What's right for your practice?

If you're thinking about applying to join the Practice Standards Scheme it may be helpful to hear from fellow veterinary professionals working in a range of practices about their reasons for joining in this short video. Further down the page you will find information on the different levels of accreditation you can apply for, depending on the nature of your practice. There's also a step-by-step guide to support you through the application process. 

There are different levels of accreditation your practice premises can apply for, depending on the type of premises, services offered and species treated. 

Accreditations Small animal Equine Farm animal
Core Standards check checked checked
General Practice checked checked checked
General Practice (Ambulatory)   checked  
Emergency Services Clinic checked  
Veterinary Hospital checked checked  

Core Standards

It is a Code requirement that veterinary surgeons must practice to at least Core Standards of PSS, and therefore they are relevant to all veterinary practices in the UK.

All practice premises must achieve at least Core Standards in all relevant modules. For example, if a practice premises doesn't undertake surgery then it would be exempt from the requirements of this module. 

Core Standards reflect mainly legal requirements that must be met in running a veterinary practice, together with guidance as set out in the Code of Professional Conduct

General Practice

General Practice accreditation encompasses everything over and above the legislative and code requirements as laid out in Core Standards, and requires practices to show how they have achieved extra considerations that benefit the veterinary team, patients and clients.

Accreditation reflects the requirements of a primary care practice which also aims to facilitate the achievement of high standards of clinical care, and encompasses many of the facilities required for veterinary nurse training standards

Equine General Practice (Ambulatory)

This accreditation recognises that there are equine practices that provide a GP-level service, albeit they do not have stabling facilities or premises where horses are treated.

Practice premises must meet the Core and GP requirements in all modules except In-patients.

Small Animal Emergency Service Clinic (ESC)

This accreditation reflects the work of a Small Animal practice that can deal with emergency and critical care cases without an appointment.

Small Animal ESCs must meet the Core and GP requirements in all modules and the ESC requirements in the Emergency and Critical Care Module.

All accredited Small Animal practices up to and including Veterinary Hospitals may use an Emergency Services Clinic for their out-of-hours provision.

Equine Emergency Service Clinic (ESC)

This accreditation reflects the work of an Equine practice that can deal with emergency cases in the field, and that provides out-of-hours services.

Emergency Service Clinics must meet the Core requirements in all relevant modules and the ESC requirements in the Emergency (Ambulatory) module.

Equine practices accredited at Core Standards, General Practice and General Practice (Ambulatory) level may use an Emergency Service Clinic for their out-of-hours provision. Equine Veterinary Hospitals must provide out-of-hours cover at the hospital premises.

Veterinary Hospital

Veterinary hospital accreditation reflects the requirements of a General Practice that has additional facilities and protocols for the investigation and treatment of more complex cases.

Veterinary Hospitals must meet the Core, GP and Veterinary Hospital requirements in all modules. Occasionally, exemptions from modules may apply. If your veterinary hospital does not undertake an area of work, for instance dentistry, this module would be exempted from your accreditation. 

Applying for RCVS-accreditation

The information below guides you through the process of applying to join the PSS. You can also find information about what happens during the assessment process itself. 

Step-by-step guide to applying to the PSS

  • If your practice is part of a Group, please first find out what your Group's process is for PSS before applying for assessment. 
  • Apply for assessment via Stanley, the system we use to manage the PSS.
  • We will email you to confirm receipt of your application within a week. We will also email you an invoice for the application fee. 
  • Payment is due within 30 days of the invoice date. Upon receipt of payment your practice becomes a candidate. 
  • The PSS team will contact you to check availability for the assessment visit which will be scheduled in approximately 3 months' time.
  • Within a month of this conversation, we will contact you with details of the proposed assessor, who you will be able to accept or decline. Once you have accepted an assessor, they will contact you to arrange a mutually agreeable date for the assessment.
  • One month ahead of the assessment visit, all documents should have been uploaded to Stanley. The assessor may leave comments on the uploaded documentation any time within a month of the visit.
  • The assessment takes place, and the assessor will provide feedback on the outcome on the same day.
  • Following an internal review process, the report on your practice assessment will be posted to Stanley within 4-6 weeks of the visit. It's important that any issues raised by the assessor shouldn't be acted upon until you have received this formal report. We will also issue an invoice for any ad hoc fees incurred at this time.
  • Depending on the nature of deficiencies identified in the assessment, evidence deadlines are set for 1, 3 or 6 months' time. Please upload evidence by each deadline, which is then reviewed by the assessor within 3 weeks of receipt. The PSS team then re-releases the report after each submission is reviewed with an updated report. This cycle is ongoing until all evidence is submitted and issues resolved.
  • Once all outstanding fees have been paid and the assessor is satisfied with the evidence submitted, we will confirm your accreditation and send you your RCVS-accredited practice certificate and logos. We will also update Find a Vet to reflect your RCVS-accredited practice status. 

If you have any questions about the application process, please contact the PSS team by emailing or calling 020 7202 0767.