New codes will ensure the public and their animals continue to receive the level of professional service they have come to expect from veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses in the UK, says RCVS president.

New codes of professional conduct for veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses were launched by the RCVS on April 12, 2012, during the WSAVA / FECAVA / BSAVA World Congress in Birmingham.
 
RCVS: setting veterinary standardsThe codes, which will replace the existing Guides to Professional Conduct, help to describe those professional responsibilities that are fundamental to veterinary surgeons’ and veterinary nurses’ practice.

The new codes are principles-based, easily accessible and (at 16 pages long compared to the 50-page guides) far more concise. Both codes set out 5 principles of practice:

  1. Professional competence;
  2. Honesty and integrity;
  3. Independence and impartiality;
  4. Client confidentiality and trust; and,
  5. Professional accountability.

The veterinary surgeons’ code features an update to the declaration made on admission to the profession and, for the first time, the veterinary nurses’ code includes a declaration to be made on professional registration.
 
Among the professional responsibilities introduced in the codes are:

  • Mandatory recording of CPD;
  • A mandatory professional development phase for new vets and period of supervised practice for registered veterinary nurses (RVNs) returning to practice after a break;
  • A performance protocol; and,
  • Notification to the RCVS of any matter that may affect fitness to practise, including convictions.

 
RCVS president Dr Jerry DaviesFor the first time, mandatory clinical governance has been introduced, and minimum practice standards have also been incorporated, at equivalence to the core standards set out in the RCVS Practice Standards Scheme.
 
RCVS president Jerry Davies said: “I am delighted that this significant piece of work has come to fruition. The RCVS has shown that, despite aged legislation, the codes will, through imaginative interpretation of the Veterinary Surgeons Act, ensure the public and their animals continue to receive the level of professional service they have come to expect from veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses in the UK.”

BVA president Carl PadgettThe British Veterinary Association (BVA) welcomed the launch of the new codes, which president Carl Padgett called: “a clear set of standards for the future for veterinary surgeons to uphold.”

He particularly praised the move from the term “should” to “must” in many areas of the code, which he said “will help underline the profession’s accountability to clients who rightly expect the very best.”

“These changes, coupled with the ongoing consultation on a Legislative Reform Order to update the disciplinary processes of the RCVS, will ensure our profession continues to be held to the highest standards,” he added.

 

  • A pocket-sized hard copy of the code will be posted to all vets and RVNs.
  • Fully searchable online versions are available at www.rcvs.org.uk/vetcode and www.rcvs.org.uk/vncode.
  • PDF versions will soon be available to download and a digital version, which would enable access to the codes and additional 27 chapters of supporting guidance via smart phones and tablets, is being explored.
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