The RCVS is encouraging vets, vet nurses and other practice members to respond to a Government consultation on changing the law to introduce English language testing for vets who have qualified from elsewhere in the European Union (EU).

Under proposals outlined in the consultation by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the test would apply before an individual joined the register and only where the RCVS had “serious and concrete doubts” about his or her English language abilities.

The plan to consult on this issue had been welcomed by RCVS council at its June 2015 meeting.

Every year, around half of all new vet registrants are from outside the UK – the majority from other EU or European Economic Area countries. These individuals fall within the scope of the Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications (MRPQ) Directive, which applies to all EU nationals wishing to practise in a regulated profession in another member state.

Last year, a revised version of the MRPQ Directive came into force, which made a number of changes, including clarifying and reinforcing the role of competent authorities such as the RCVS. One of these changes is language testing is expressly permitted, but only where serious concerns have been identified.

RCVS registrar Gordon Hockey said: “Under the current legislation the college is not able to bar someone from joining the register and, therefore, practising on the basis of language ability, even where we may have serious concerns.

“I would encourage all vets, vet nurses and other practice members to engage with this consultation and consider whether the college should have the right to impose a language test where it has serious doubts, more in line with medical doctors, and the form such testing would take.”

Take part in the English language consultation.

The deadline for responses is 30 September, 2015.

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